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1 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT I was fortunate to have worked for 23 years at one of the most successful financial services firms in the world. The concepts in Fired Up or Burned Out reminded me of many of the reasons I think the firm was so consistently successful and why we enjoyed working there. In particular, the pride people felt at being part of the organization gave meaning to their work. In addition, because people always treated each other with respect there was a strong emotional commitment. This is a valuable book with very enduring ideas that have proven to be important to success. Joseph R. Zimmel, Former Partner and Managing Director Goldman, Sachs & Co. An enthralling and impressive work. I am completely convinced that the basic precepts in this book will stand the test of time for many centuries to come, indeed, probably forever. It shows how to empower people and create great societies, corporations, and cultures. I m giving it to everyone at my own firm. Russell Reynolds Jr., Founder and Former CEO, Russell Reynolds Associates, and Chairman, RSR Partners Reading this book is like having a great conversation; new and interesting people join in along the way, adding their own personal and varied insights and encouraging an increasingly smart and useful dialogue. Readers are compelled to emerge smarter, more thoughtful, and more energized and engaging with this book. Regina Fazio Maruca, Former Senior Editor, Harvard Business Review, and Coauthor, Your Leadership Legacy A fabulous book, a must-read! People are hungry to learn more about the one-to-one connection to enhance their businesses and lives. Read Michael s book and learn from others who are successfully making the human connection a reality in their businesses. Jack Mitchell, Chairman and CEO of Mitchells/Richards/Marshs, and Author of Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results

2 Through fascinating stories, Fired Up or Burned Out convinced me of the power of connection in life and in work. It helped me see what is missing in so many organizations. Just as important, I learned what to do about it. Marian Chapman Moore, Professor and Academic Director, Darden MBA for Executives, Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia This book offers extremely practical advice about how leaders of any type of institution can create and maintain an environment and workplace atmosphere where participants become energized and fully engaged. The Connection Culture explains how to motivate everyone to pull his/her own weight and work together to create a winning team. It seems to me that America s great institutions, such as General Electric, the U.S. Marine Corps, the New York Yankees, the University of Notre Dame, Goldman Sachs, and Davis Polk have been Connection Cultures for a long time and that their connection has clearly contributed to their consistent success over time. Hank Higdon, Chairman Higdon Partners LLC One of the things I ve learned is that for employees to stage engaging experiences for a company s customers, they have to be engaged themselves in that company and what it stands for. Read Fired Up or Burned Out, and Michael Stallard will show you exactly how to ignite their passion by connecting them to your purpose. B. Joseph Pine II, Coauthor, The Experience Economy, and Cofounder, Strategic Horizons LLP An inspiring and valuable guide for CEOs, senior business leaders, line managers and those first venturing into the business world. The insights provided through relevant and thoughtful anecdotes of both successful leaders and associated organizations serve as a strategic aid to anyone in a leadership role looking to empower each and every employee. Russ D. Gerson Chief Executive Officer The Gerson Group

3 So many corporate success stories can be traced back to the dedication and enthusiasm of the people who work for the company. This book provides the perfect how-to in developing engaged and empowered employees. I m using it as our text book for everyone in management. Mark Curtis, President and Co-Founder Splash Car Wash Company The greatest assets in an organization are the employees, and engaging them is the most direct way to improve your business.fired Up or Burned Out clearly outlines how executives can focus their energies, not only to improve their individual leadership abilities but also to add to the effectiveness of the entire team in achieving the organization s goals. E. Pendleton James, Chairman, Pendleton James Associates, and Former Assistant to President Reagan for Presidential Personnel Fired Up or Burned Out is a must-read for anyone in a leadership role. Leadership can seem so complex and often times confusing when, in fact, following core principles that focus on the basic needs of every individual will always guide a leader to the truth! This book describes these core principles and basic needs in an easy-to-remember model that should be displayed on every leader s desk. The model is beautifully explained and wonderfully illustrated by examples of great leaders throughout history in every walk of life. Keith A. VanderVeen, Midwest Regional President, Wachovia Securities, LLC This is a must-read for any leader or anyone aspiring to be in a leadership role. Lessons drawn uniquely from acclaimed personalities of the past become the foundation for strong leadership in tomorrow s world. There s no other book like it. Richard Murphy, Founder and Former CEO, ODI International

4 There are few business leaders who understand the power of human connection. Given the shifting demographics in this country, it must be understood that virtually all people have the potential to achieve sufficiently to succeed in life. The broad principles and concepts in this book provide me with hope that American business leaders might begin to understand that all people have the potential to learn enough so that they have met the thresholds of competition in the global community. It is a renewed belief in humankind s capacity that provides the wellspring of what others can begin to follow. If our hope is for a world that provides fair opportunities for individuals, companies, and their communities, then we must be determined to work to make it so. Those companies that embrace the principles advocated in Fired Up or Burned Out will ultimately reap the benefits of successful competition in the new flat world. Eric J. Cooper, Ed.D., President, National Urban Alliance for Effective Education Stallard s strategy gives business owners the tools to energize and strengthen their employees. Fired Up or Burned Out is a must-read for leaders who are looking for new ways to inspire spirit in the workplace. Shep & Ian Murray, Co-Founders and CEOs of Vineyard Vines

5 F I R E D U P or B U R N E D O U T How to Reignite Your Team s Passion, Creativity, and Productivity M I C H A E L L E E S TA L L A R D with Carolyn Dewing-Hommes and Jason Pankau

6 2007 by Michael Lee Stallard All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc. Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please ISBN (trade paper) Library of Congress Catalog-in-Publication Data Stallard, Michael Lee. Fired up or burned out : how to reignite your team's passion, creativity, and productivity / Michael Lee Stallard ; with Carolyn Dewing-Hommes and Jason Pankau. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN (hardcover) 1. Employee motivation. 2. Leadership. 3. Mentoring in business. I. Dewing-Hommes, Carolyn. II. Pankau, Jason. III. Title. HF M63S '14 dc Printed in the United States of America LSI

7 x To our wonderful families and friends. Being with you brings us much joy and encouragement.


9 CONTENTS Introduction xiii PART I WHAT FIRES US UP? Chapter 1: The Case for Connection at Work 2 Chapter 2: The Science of Connection 9 Chapter 3: The Connection Culture 16 Chapter 4: Connection and the Legend 24 Chapter 5: Trouble in Times Square 31 Chapter 6: The Next Step in the Evolution of Organizations 36 PART II THE THREE KEYS TO CONNECTING YOUR TEAM AND LIGHTING THEIR FIRES: VISION,VALUE, AND VOICE Chapter 7: Inspire with Identity 44 Chapter 8: Create Meaning in Your Organization 51 Chapter 9: Delete What Devalues 62 Chapter 10: Dial Up the Value 75 Chapter 11: Three Benefits of Knowledge Flow 82 Chapter 12: Increase Flow 99 ix

10 CONTENTS PART III THE FIRE STARTS WITH YOU: BECOME A PERSON OF CHARACTER AND CONNECTION TO IGNITE THE TEAM AROUND YOU Chapter 13: People Who Connect 110 Chapter 14: The Journey to Connection 116 Chapter 15: Developing Character Strengths and Connection 121 PART IV LEARN FROM TWENTY GREAT LEADERS OVER TWENTY DAYS WEEK 1 Day 1: French Hero of the American Revolution 132 Day 2: Restoring the Glory 135 Day 3: The Shot Heard Around the World 138 Day 4: Soldier of Peace 142 Day 5: Hug Your Customers 147 WEEK 2 Day 6: A Most Unlikely Turnaround 151 Day 7: Enlightened Monarch? 154 Day 8: First in Their Hearts 157 Day 9: Reconnecting a Nation 159 Day 10: Connection to the Cause 162 WEEK 3 Day 11: Community Catalyst 164 Day 12: The Business of The Body Shop 166 x

11 CONTENTS Day 13: More Than an Oracle 169 Day 14: Ritz-Carlton Character and Culture 172 Day 15: Peter Drucker s Kind of Leader 176 WEEK 4 Day 16: Dr. Fred s INN 179 Day 17: Purpose-driven Pastor 182 Day 18: Patriot Playbook 185 Day 19: High-Five Moments 188 Day 20: Transforming the Culture of Kim 191 Conclusion: Build a Fire That Lasts 195 Appendix A: Questions to Assess Organizational Culture and Connection 203 Notes 206 Acknowledgments 218 About the Authors 221 Index 223 xi


13 INTRODUCTION What fires up people and helps them and the organizations they work in thrive? I m not talking about motivational speeches and incentives that produce a short-term burst of enthusiasm. I mean, what really makes people perform to the best of their abilities for long periods of time? What causes individuals to put their hearts in their work? Although people generally enter their organizations fired up, over time most work environments reduce that inner fire from a flame to a flicker. As I will explain, solving this problem needs to be one of the highest priorities of today s organizations. In this book you will learn how to increase the fire and passion inside people that is necessary for individuals and organizations to achieve their potential. The approach I will describe is based on the results of E Pluribus Partners multiyear study of leaders who succeeded and those who failed to engage the people they led. Our work draws upon explanations and insights identified from diverse fields of knowledge, including psychology, sociology, neuroscience, political science, organizational behavior, systems theory, history, philosophy, and religion. xiii

14 INTRODUCTION One of the best ways to learn how to fire up people is to study the best practices of outstanding leaders. The leaders you ll learn from include these: a renowned basketball coach whose Hall of Fame biography credits him for producing teams that scaled unprecedented heights that no future organization in any sport is likely to approach a remarkable twenty-five-year-old queen in the 1500s with no leadership experience who inherited a bankrupt England and led her country to become one of the most powerful nations on earth an exceptional woman who began as a volunteer in her organization, then went on as CEO to transform it into one of the best-managed organizations worldwide, according to the late Peter Drucker a distinguished American career soldier who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, named Time magazine s Man of the Year twice, and was considered by Winston Churchill to be the primary architect of the Allies victory during World War II These are just a few of the remarkable people whose stories will help you understand how to fire up people in your organization. DO YOU THRIVE OR JUST SURVIVE? How many people truly thrive at work? Research by the Gallup Organization suggests that fewer than three in ten Americans are xiv

15 INTRODUCTION engaged in their jobs. 1 In other countries, the number is even lower. Just imagine the wasted human potential! Because so few individuals are thriving in organizations, it follows that organizations are wasting much of their potential too. Over the course of my twenty-five-year business career, there have been times when I thrived and others when I merely survived. In a couple of the worst instances, the work culture slowly drained the life out of me. So there you have it: thrive, survive, or die. Which term describes what your work culture is doing to you? If you are a leader, how would the people who report to you answer that question? I ve been interested in work cultures throughout my career because I wanted to understand the culture that would bring out the best in me. My interest increased dramatically in the late 1990s when I became the chief marketing officer for the global private wealth management business of a major international brokerage firm on Wall Street. In that position, I recognized that a key success factor for our business was building strong relationships between our clients and our firm s frontline professionals, and I did whatever was possible to promote such relationship building. In addition, we developed and implemented business practices to keep our frontline professionals fired up. The result was that our revenues doubled over a two-and-a-half-year period, and our business achieved its first billion-dollar revenue year in the firm s history. During that time I realized that my colleagues and I had discovered something special. In the spring of 2002, I left Wall Street to start a think tank to assist people and organizations in achieving their potential. In the search to comprehend every aspect of how to help people thrive in organizations, I learned from the advice and insights of experts in a broad range of fields, and from the approaches of great and xv

16 INTRODUCTION failed leaders. My coauthor Carolyn Dewing-Hommes shared with me her insights gained from a Citibank study when she had access to some of the world s most prominent companies and their leaders. My other coauthor, Jason Pankau, shared insights that he developed as a leader and a coach of corporate leaders. One important insight emerged from two experiences that forever changed my life. THE POWER OF CONNECTION My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in late Fortunately, it was detected early, removed by surgery, and treated with radiation. While Katie underwent treatments at our local hospital, the kindness and compassion of many health-care workers comforted us. Some of them were cancer survivors. They knew what we were going through, and they went beyond their regular duties to make a human connection with us. Those connections boosted our spirits. Twelve months later, Katie was diagnosed with cancer again, this time ovarian. During the first half of 2004, Katie had six chemotherapy treatments. She took a break from chemo over the summer, then started high dosage chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Our experience there really surprised me. Every time we approached the front doors of the Fifty-third Street entrance in midtown Manhattan, the exuberant doormen locked their eyes on us and greeted us with big, warm smiles as if we were friends coming to visit. The receptionist and security people were equally friendly. At our first office visit, Dr. Martee Hensley, Katie s oncologist, spent an hour educating us and answering a long list of questions. Although the xvi

17 INTRODUCTION statistics were sobering, Dr. Hensley s warm disposition and optimistic attitude lifted our spirits and gave us hope. Simply put, the connection with the people at Sloan-Kettering encouraged us. One day while Katie was having a treatment, I went to the gift shop to get something to drink and stumbled on a meeting in the adjacent lounge where Sloan-Kettering employees were discussing an employee survey. I overheard them share that they loved working there because they loved their colleagues, their patients, and their cause, which is to provide what is stated on the center s printed materials... the best cancer care, anywhere. It was apparent that those health-care professionals had formed a connection with one another and with their patients. During our time at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, I witnessed more joy, trust, cooperation, and connection there than in 95 percent of the offices I had been in over my career. Who would have guessed that a cancer treatment center could be such a vibrant and positive work environment? Today, I m overjoyed to say, Katie is in remission for both cancers, and she feels great. Reflecting on those days, I m convinced that the connection we felt from the tremendous outpouring of care provided by health-care workers, friends, and family helped Katie overcome cancer, and it protected our family s spirits. An American Cancer Society publication stated that feeling alone is one of the worst things for cancer patients. We rarely felt alone because we were constantly reminded that many, many people were pulling for us. We figured people were praying for us from probably every religion known to man, and even our atheist friends said they were sending positive thoughts our way. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I experienced the joy that comes from a real sense of community and connection to people beyond my family and close circle of friends. xvii

18 INTRODUCTION For years I did not fully appreciate or understand the importance of relationships and connection. There is increasing evidence that this is a national problem. The well-documented decline in joy following World War II in the midst of growing economic prosperity is widely believed to be attributable to diminishing connection in our lives: families have spread out geographically, more families have become headed by two-career couples, and more time has been spent in the workplace. Two books by respected authorities in their fields, psychologist David Myers s American Paradox 2 and political scientist Robert Lane s The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies, 3 describe this phenomenon. In the pages ahead, I will shed light on this problem and how we can correct it. CONNECTION AFTER 9/11 Another insight about our environment s impact on us came to me as I considered what I felt on the mornings following the terrorist attacks on September 11, Walking from Grand Central Station to my office near Times Square, I vividly remember looking down the canyon-like avenues and seeing American flags flying everywhere against the backdrop of a giant smoldering cloud that hovered over the southern end of Manhattan. I also recall New Yorkers nodding and making eye contact with me as if to say, We ll make it through this. (If you ve been to New York City, you know that making eye contact with strangers is rare.) A sense of connection in our shared belief in freedom and democracy moved the hearts of people across America to fly their flags and send money for the families who lost loved ones. And xviii

19 INTRODUCTION connection moved rescue workers and volunteers to come to New York City and Washington, D.C., to do what they could to help. Although New Yorkers pride themselves on individualism, I can tell you they were profoundly moved by the outpouring of affection from their fellow Americans. During that time of shock, of mourning, and of sadness, the empathy and compassion extended by people throughout the United States and the rest of the world provided the healing embrace New Yorkers needed to continue on. Social commentator David Brooks, writing about American unity following September 11, likened us to one big family because even though we may have our differences, when one of our own is in trouble, we are there for one another. 4 The same strength of connection got us through the Depression and World War II. The sense of connection I felt following the 9/11 terrorist attacks had a profound effect on me. It led Carolyn, Jason, and me to name our think tank E Pluribus Partners, inspired by America s motto E Pluribus Unum, which in Latin means out of many, one. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson chose that phrase. If they had seen Americans coming together in the aftermath of 9/11, I believe they would have stood up and cheered. WE MUST CONNECT WITH OTHERS TO THRIVE The more we reflected on our own experiences and the more research we conducted about what makes people and organizations thrive, the more Carolyn, Jason, and I became convinced that it came down to this: connection. Our connection with others xix

20 INTRODUCTION in our organization keeps us fired up for long periods of time. Connection meets basic human psychological needs for respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth, and meaning. When these needs are met, we thrive. Research shows that when connection is present, organizations are more productive, more innovative, and more profitable. Our lives, including the time we spend working, are enriched with greater connection. My hope is that you will recognize the vital role of connection in reaching your personal potential and experiencing life at its best. Conversely, the lack of connection will gradually burn us out. Organizational environments where connection is low or absent diminish our physical and mental health. They create a low level of toxicity that drains our energy, poisons our attitudes, and impacts our ability to be productive. Like the frog in the proverbial kettle of water that is oblivious to the fact that the water is slowly coming to a boil, a person in a low-connection environment had better wise up to his situation before it s too late. In addition to bringing out the best in individual performance, connection improves group performance. Research has proven that connection makes us better problem solvers, more creative, more trusting, and more cooperative. Trust and cooperation are the lubrication, if you will, that make the tasks of organizations run better. In a work environment that fails to increase individual engagement and connection among people, results will eventually suffer. Too often that s exactly what happens when leaders experience success for a time, only to see their organization s performance decline. Creating the right work environment requires paying attention to the so-called soft aspects of organizations. These are xx

21 INTRODUCTION emotional issues such as the meaning of work and the way people treat one another. A 2004 study of fifty thousand employees at fifty-nine global companies conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council, a unit of the prestigious Corporate Executive Board, found that emotional factors were four times more effective in increasing employee engagement than rational factors. 5 It would be rational, then, to take a hard line on the soft issues that have been overlooked in the past. While our human natures may lead us to assume that other people think the way we do (or at least they should), those who have studied personality and neuroscience tell us that people are wired very differently. The overwhelming majority of leaders with whom I have dealt excelled in left brain-directed linear and analytic thinking yet were less sensitive to the issues that had an emotional effect on people, a cognitive strength primarily directed by the right brain hemisphere. 6 (According to the research of one psychologist based on his study of more than 2,245 executives 95 percent of them who completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a test that identifies temperament, were classified as left braindirected thinkers rather than right brain-directed feelers. 7 ) Herein lies the challenge. Because of the left brain s dominance in most leaders, they tend to view actions that improve engagement and connection as inefficient and therefore unimportant, and they discount the feelings of people with other temperaments. Such leaders will be persuaded that investing in the soft issues is beneficial only when they see proof of its positive, tangible effect on the performance of people and organizations. My hope is that the following pages will persuade leaders with facts and testimonies that economic and organizational benefits come from the soft issues. xxi

22 INTRODUCTION THE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF CONNECTION Building organizational connection is already happening in many revered companies. From Main Street to Wall Street, I am encouraged to see leaders beginning to recognize the value of connection and fostering a sense of community. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Starbucks, and jetblue are very intentional about increasing their connection among employees and with customers. Harley- Davidson has created a community around its motorcycle riders, employees, and management, and the company sponsors crosscountry trips and road rallies. On Wall Street, Goldman Sachs has enhanced and expanded its leadership training in order to advance the connection among its leaders. Goldman has even made leadership training available to the up-and-coming leaders of its client companies to strengthen its connection with them before the promising leaders reach the top jobs. In San Francisco, the biotech company Genentech, which Fortune magazine named in 2005 as the number-one-rated company to work for, brings in cancer patients to connect with its employees, throws weekly parties for employees to connect with one another, and celebrates big product breakthroughs with company-wide parties that have featured entertainers Elton John, Mary J. Blige, and Matchbox Southwest Airlines learned that its performance at the gate improved when it maintained a 10 to 1 frontline employee-tosupervisor ratio because supervisors could connect with, coach, and encourage those people. 9 (Some airlines have frontline employee-to-supervisor ratios of 40 to 1 that make connection difficult to maintain.) Ed Catmull, the head of Pixar Animation Studios, formed Pixar as an antidote to the disconnection that is the norm in the film industry where independent contractors come together for a xxii

23 INTRODUCTION specific project and then disband upon the project s conclusion. 10 Pixar keeps the team together so that they build connection. Catmull also created the in-house Pixar University to increase connection across Pixar. At Pixar University connection occurs when every employee, from the janitors to Catmull himself, spends four hours each week in classes with colleagues learning about the arts and animation and about each other. It s no coincidence that Pixar University s crest bears the Latin phrase Alienus Non Dieutius, which means alone no longer. 11 The bottom line is that connection is a necessity to any organization that aspires to achieve sustainable superior performance. Organizations with people who report they are more connected and engaged are also better performers across the board in a variety of measures from customer satisfaction to profitability. An overwhelming amount of evidence points to the need to increase connection in our organizations. It is possible to thrive at work and be a catalyst for positive change. If you are ready to experience work and life at its best and are tired of settling for less, it s time to get fired up! xxiii


25 PART I WHAT FIRES US UP? In Part I you will learn... why a sense of emotional connection is necessary for people and organizations to thrive. why you need connection to achieve your personal potential and how connection affects your physical and mental health. about research from sociologists, psychologists, and neuroscientists that increasingly demonstrates the powerful effect of connection on people. what elements are necessary to create a connection culture (a culture that increases connection among people). about the stories of two leaders and the cultures they created as illustrations of what a connection culture is and what it is not. about the basic human psychological needs that are met by connection and some developments in modern organizations that have become obstacles to meeting these needs for most people.

26 CHAPTER 1 THE CASE FOR CONNECTION AT WORK One of the most powerful and least understood aspects of business is how a sense of connection among people affects their success in life. Just as the wind moves trees and gravity moves objects, connection is invisible, yet has a very real effect on the behavior of people. I m convinced that unless the people in an organization have a strong sense of connection a bond that promotes trust, cooperation, and esprit de corps they will never reach their potential as individuals, and the organization will never reach its potential. Employees in an organization with a high degree of connection are more engaged, more productive in their jobs, and less likely to leave the organization for a competitor. Such employees are more trusting and more cooperative, share information with their colleagues, and therefore help decision makers reach wellinformed decisions. Organizations that cultivate connection will be more innovative. Connection transforms a dog-eat-dog environment into a sled dog team that pulls together. 1 So what is connection anyway? When we interact with people, we generally feel that we connect with some and not with others. 2

27 THE CASE FOR CONNECTION AT WORK Connection describes something intangible in relationships. When it is present, we feel energy, empathy, and affirmation; when it is absent, we experience neutral or even negative feelings. Although we know what it s like to feel connected on a personal level, few among us understand the effect of connection on us and on our organizations. TODAY S WIDESPREAD DISCONNECTION AND DISENGAGEMENT AT WORK The Gallup Organization has done extensive research in this area. The best measure of connection is Gallup s Q12 survey that asks questions about whether other people in your workplace care for you, help you grow, and consider your opinions and ideas. In 2002 the Gallup Organization published the results of a landmark research study in the Journal of Applied Psychology that tracked nearly eight thousand American-based business units over seven years. Business units with higher Q12 scores in other words, higher connection experienced higher productivity, higher profitability, and higher customer satisfaction, as well as lower employee turnover and fewer accidents. 2 Other studies confirm the opportunity exists to improve performance by improving employee engagement. The 2004 study by the Corporate Executive Board that I mentioned earlier concluded that the most committed employees outperform the average employee by 20 percent and are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization. 3 A Hewitt study of fifteen hundred companies over four years showed companies with higher employee engagement realized higher total shareholder return. 4 Unfortunately, Gallup research also clearly shows that the lack 3

28 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT of connection has resulted in widespread employee disengagement. Results from its Q12 survey consistently indicate approximately 75 percent of workers do not feel engaged or connected at work. 5 The 2004 Corporate Executive Board global study of employee engagement revealed even more dismal results: 76 percent of those surveyed had a moderate commitment to their employers, and 13 percent had very little commitment. 6 The state of many organizations today is like that of a body builder who exercises only one arm. The result: one bulging bicep and three skinny, underdeveloped limbs. Can any body builder or organization perform at its peak with only 25 percent of its members engaged? The Gallup Organization conservatively estimates the annual economic cost to the American economy from the approximately 22 million American workers who are extremely negative or actively disengaged to be between $250 and $300 billion. This figure doesn t include the cost for employees who are disengaged but have not spiraled down to the level of active disengagement. 7 4

29 THE CASE FOR CONNECTION AT WORK Widespread disengagement is a waste of human talent and energy. It s not healthy for employees or employers. People don t live with this level of frustration forever. When they are able to, many will flee to greener pastures, most likely to leaders and environments that will provide the connection they need, whether to somewhere else in your organization or to your competitor. THE URGENCY OF CONNECTION Two megatrends promise to make connection even more important: the coming labor shortage and increasing globalization of labor. In the Americas, Europe, and Asia, birth rates have plummeted below worker replacement levels. 8 When more baby boomers retire in a few years, shortages are likely in many segments of the labor market. The numbers are daunting. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a shortfall of 10 million workers by The Employment Policy Foundation projects a shortage of workers within this decade and lasting through much of the first half of this century. At its peak, it is expected that America will experience a shortfall of 35 million workers. 10 Because workers will have so many jobs to choose from, leaders must understand the impact of the looming labor shortage. They will need to provide a workplace culture that attracts and retains employees or suffer as insufficient labor is available to meet their growth goals. The coming labor shortage was highlighted in a lead article of the Harvard Business Review. In It s Time to Retire Retirement, authors Ken Dychtwald, Tamara Erickson, and Bob Morison concluded, after a year-long study of the implications for businesses of the aging workforce: 5

30 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Mass retirement threatens to drain talent from businesses over the next ten to fifteen years. Businesses will need to attract and retain older workers to meet their human resource needs. The workplace environment will need to be altered in order to attract and retain workers. 11 The media s coverage of this megatrend has just begun. The Wall Street Journal, Time, Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, and other thought-leading periodicals have recently featured articles on the approaching labor shortage. You can be sure that the noise level will rise to a clamor over the years ahead. The second megatrend, the globalization of labor, will also intensify the need to engage people at work. Many areas of the economy, such as the financial capital markets, already operate in a global manner. Financial capital easily moves around the world, and the prices of financial assets in one part of the world affect prices everywhere else. Globalization is beginning to happen with labor too. With the rise of offshoring, globalization will continue in the market for people (or human capital, as economists describe us). Technological advances such as broadband Internet connections and online collaboration capabilities have made it easier for companies to move work and jobs around the globe. China and India have already attracted a large number of jobs from other countries. As this trend accelerates, companies that want to retain jobs in their home countries will need to boost the productivity of their people or lose business to competitors that reduce prices by offshoring. 6

31 THE CASE FOR CONNECTION AT WORK Many firms will be unprepared for the storms ahead, however. Sydney Finkelstein of Dartmouth s Tuck School of Business studied cases of business failure to identify what managers can learn from mistakes of the past, and he noted that they usually knew of the developments in their industry that produced unfavorable change but failed to do anything about them. 12 The emerging storms from disengagement, an aging population, and globalization could turn out to be issues managers were aware of but failed to act upon. To gain a performance advantage and reduce their vulnerability in the face of these issues, leaders can intentionally create a work environment that increases engagement and connection within the organization. The reward? A business that achieves sustainable peak performance including employees who are so committed to their organization that they recruit on its behalf. It can happen and will happen when you get connected and get fired up. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Connection affects our success in life. How is the level of connection in your life? How connected do you feel to your colleagues and to the organization where you are employed? Gallup research shows approximately three-fourths of Americans are not connected or engaged at work. Gallup research also shows that business units with higher levels of engagement in other words, a higher degree of connection experience higher productivity, higher profitability, and higher customer satisfaction, as well as lower employee turnover and accidents. 7

32 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Connection in the workplace will become even more important given the coming labor shortage and increasing globalization of labor. So what? Increasing connection in the workplace is a significant opportunity to improve the performance of individuals and organizations. 8

33 CHAPTER 2 THE SCIENCE OF CONNECTION In recent years, neuroscientists have discovered that positive human contact has a physiological effect on people. More specifically, it reduces the blood levels of the stress hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. It increases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which enhances attention and pleasure, and serotonin, which eases fear and worry. Connection also increases the levels of oxytocin and/or vasopressin that make us more trusting and helps us bond with others. 1 In laymen s terms, connection makes us feel good. Connection provides a sense of well-being, it minimizes stress, and it makes us more trusting. The observations of psychiatrists confirm these discoveries about connection. Dr. Edward Hallowell, a practicing psychiatrist and instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has written that most business executives he encounters in his practice are deprived of connection with others, and he has stated that it makes them feel lonely, isolated, and confused at work. He believes that people in organizations with a deficiency of connection become distrusting, disrespectful, and dissatisfied. He describes 9

34 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT these cultures without connection as corrosive. To treat patients suffering from emotional isolation, Dr. Hallowell helps them increase connection in their lives. Some psychoanalysts and psychologists at Wellesley College are doing work in what they refer to as Relational-Cultural Theory. Based on years of research, they believe the lack of connection in the workplace is one reason why more and more midcareer women are walking away from successful careers. They sense that their workplace cultures are unhealthy. Because women in general tend to be more relational than men, they typically sense when the relational dynamics are less than ideal. Men seem to be less sensitive to connection and the damage done to individuals and organizations when connections are lacking or absent. 2 CONNECTION MEETS BASIC HUMAN PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS Other research establishes that connection improves mental and physical health throughout our lives 3 : Babies who are held, stroked, and cuddled are mentally and physically healthier. Adolescents who feel connected at home and at school are more well-adjusted. Patients with greater social support recover faster. People who experience positive human contact are more creative and better problem solvers. 4 10

35 THE SCIENCE OF CONNECTION Adults with more social relationships are less prone to sickness, depression, and suicide. Seniors with greater social relationships live longer. All of this evidence begs the question, what is it about connection that makes it so powerful? We have deeply felt human needs to be respected, to be recognized for our talents, to belong, to have autonomy or control over our work, to experience personal growth, and to do work that we feel has meaning and do it in a way that we feel is ethical. When we work in an environment that recognizes these realities of our human nature, we thrive. We feel more energetic, more optimistic, and more fully alive. When we work in an environment that fails to recognize these parts of our human nature, our physical and mental health are damaged. 5 People want and need to be valued. Psychologist Abraham Maslow, in the landmark article A Theory of Human Motivation, described it this way: All people in our society (with a few pathological exceptions) have a need or desire for a stable, firmly based, (usually) high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others. By firmly based self-esteem, we mean that which is soundly based on real capacity, achievement and respect of others. These are, first, the desire for strength, for achievement, for adequacy, for confidence in the face of the world, and for independence and freedom. Secondly, we have what we may call the desire for reputation or prestige (defining it as respect or esteem from other people), recognition, attention, importance or appreciation... More and more today... there is appearing widespread appreciation of their central importance. 6 11

36 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Maslow went on to recognize that the needs for self-esteem and the esteem of others are deficit needs (needs that, if unmet over time, will produce pain and the desire to relieve them). One example of a deficit need is the physical need for nourishment. Left unmet, this deficit need produces the pain of hunger and the drive to seek food and eat. When people are shown respect in the workplace and their real talents and contributions are genuinely recognized, they become fired up. They put their hearts into their work. Being consistently disrespected or ignored damages their sense of selfworth and drives them to seek ways to restore their status. If they are unable to, they eventually become disengaged. Having established our need to be valued as a deficit need, Maslow commented on the effect of meeting esteem needs: Satisfaction of the self-esteem need leads to feelings of selfconfidence, worth, strength, capability and adequacy of being useful and necessary in the world. But the thwarting of these needs produces feelings of inferiority, of weakness and of helplessness. These feelings in turn give rise to either basic self-discouragement or else neurotic trends. 7 While Abraham Maslow brought new insights to help us understand human motivation, the individual s need to be valued has been recognized by wise observers of human nature since ancient times. The philosopher Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, recognized that people seek happiness, which comes, in part, from having self-esteem and receiving the honor of others that one rightly deserves. In his other works, Aristotle argued that the best state or culture, for our purposes is one that does everything possible to promote the pursuit of happiness. 12

37 THE SCIENCE OF CONNECTION He observed that happiness was necessary to achieve human health, vitality, and vigor, all of which are sure signs of human connection. The human hunger for respect and recognition is strong. Left unmet, it produces lackadaisical or potentially destructive behavior. Television shows such as The Office, movies such as Office Space, and comic strips such as Dilbert tap into the very real discontent created when people feel they are not valued. Companies that ignore the esteem needs of their employees are committing self-sabotage. Predictably, large numbers of their employees just go through the motions, or worse, they seek ways to retaliate against an organization that marginalizes them. Unethical behavior is more likely to occur in cultures where large numbers of people are disconnected. People may be more willing to commit illegitimate acts to achieve the results they desire and win the recognition they crave or to retaliate against people who they feel treat them unfairly. Other basic human psychological needs include the needs for autonomy, personal growth, and meaning (we ll explore these needs in more detail later on). Let s consider how the human psychological needs and connection play out in the workplace. When we first meet people, we expect them to respect us. If they look down on us or they are uncivil or condescending, we get upset. In time, as our colleagues get to know us, we expect them to appreciate or recognize us for our talents and contributions. That really makes us feel good. Later on, we expect to be treated and thought of as integral parts of the community. Our connection to the group is further strengthened when we feel we have control over our work. Connection is diminished, however, when we feel others are micromanaging or overcontrolling us. People who overcontrol us send the message that we are incompetent and that we are not trusted or respected. 13

38 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Connection is enhanced when we experience personal growth. In other words, our role, our work in the group, is a good fit with our skills and provides enough challenge that we feel good when we rise to meet it but not so much that we become totally stressed out. When we are in the right role and therefore more productive, people notice and affirm us. This also increases our sense of connection to the group. Finally, we are motivated when we know our work is meaningful in some way and we are around other people who share our belief that our work is important. To the extent that these human needs for respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth, and meaning are met, we feel connected to the group. The bottom line is that connection plays a critical part in improving individual performance. People who are more connected with others fare better than those who are less connected. Because it meets our human needs, connection makes people more trusting, more cooperative, more empathetic, more enthusiastic, more optimistic, more energetic, more creative, and better problem solvers. In this environment, people want to help their colleagues. They are more open and share information that helps decision makers become better informed. The openness and marketplace of ideas that emerge in a trusting, cooperative environment also make people more innovative. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Neuroscientists have shown that connection enhances attention, a sense of pleasure and trust in others, and reduces fear and worry. 14

39 THE SCIENCE OF CONNECTION Psychiatrists have observed in business executives that their lack of connection makes them feel lonely, isolated, and confused, and makes them distrusting, disrespectful, and dissatisfied. Sociologists and medical researchers have discovered that from the time of our birth, people with a higher degree of connection experience superior physical and mental health. Connection with others has a positive effect on us because it meets our basic human psychological needs for respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth, and meaning. So what? The findings of neuroscientists, psychiatrists, sociologists, and medical researchers support that a higher degree of connection improves our mental and physical performance. We ignore it at our peril. 15

40 CHAPTER 3 THE CONNECTION CULTURE IIf connection is so beneficial to firing up people and to improving an organization s performance, what can be done to foster it and make it part of your organization s DNA? I believe the answer is to intentionally create a connection culture. Culture is the predominant beliefs and behaviors shared by a group of people. A connection culture, therefore, is a culture that embraces the necessary beliefs and behaviors that enhance connection among people and meet the universal human needs. The elements in a connection culture that meet these basic human psychological needs can be summarized as vision, value, and voice. CONNECTION CULTURE ELEMENT #1: VISION The first element of a connection culture is vision. It exists in an organization when everyone is motivated by the organization s mission, united by its values, and proud of its reputation. 16

41 THE CONNECTION CULTURE Sharing a purpose or set of beliefs unites and motivates people. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center people are united and motivated by the aspiration stated in their tagline, the best cancer care, anywhere, and the organization s reputation as a leading cancer center in the world. Another example of vision is Apple Computer s Think Different advertising campaign. It was conceived following Steve Jobs s return to Apple in 1996 after a twelve-year exile. As you may recall, Apple had booted Jobs and brought in marketing pro John Scully to take Apple to the next level, which never happened. So the board of directors turned back to Jobs for help. One of his first efforts when he returned was to work with Apple s ad agency to create the Think Different campaign. It featured pictures of innovators in science, philosophy, and the arts such as theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, humanitarian Mahatma Gandhi, dancer/ choreographer Martha Graham, photographer Ansel Adams, physicist Richard Feynman, and painter Pablo Picasso. The campaign communicated that Apple people were more than technologists; they were innovators and artists who gave others like themselves the tools to change the world. It created a powerful emotional bond, a connection between Jobs, Apple employees, and Apple customers, who are, by the way, intensely loyal and evangelistic when it comes to spreading the gospel of Apple. 1 Other organizations have a compelling vision that unites and motivates their people. Charles Schwab s vision is to create the most useful and ethical financial products in the world. Disney s vision is to make people happy. Our vision at E Pluribus Partners is to unlock human and corporate potential. Another favorite example of a brilliant leader who brought vision to a group of people goes back a few years. During World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt traveled to Seattle, 17

42 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Washington, to meet with 18,000 aircraft workers at Boeing Corporation. FDR brought with him a young airplane pilot named Hewitt Wheless from Texas. The pilot had escaped death thanks to the resilience of the bullet-riddled B-17 plane he flew out of harm s way. His plane had been built at that very Boeing plant. Do you think seeing and hearing that young pilot thank them for saving his life connected them to a common cause? You bet it did. It transformed those welders and riveters into freedom fighters. From 1941 until 1945 American aircraft companies outproduced the Nazis three to one and built nearly three hundred thousand airplanes. 2 CONNECTION CULTURE ELEMENT #2: VALUE The second element of a connection culture is value. Value exists in an organization when everyone understands the basic psychological needs of people, appreciates their positive, unique contributions, and helps them achieve their potential. Let me give you a few examples of value in a culture. David Neeleman, the CEO of jetblue, meets 95 percent of new employees on their first day of work. From day one he demonstrates that he values them. He also sets aside one day each week to travel on jetblue flights where he serves beverages and gets down on his hands and knees to clean planes. His actions show that he doesn t devalue the work done by the people with the least prestigious jobs at jetblue. Throughout the course of each day the highenergy and outgoing Neeleman is constantly connecting with crew members and customers. He knows that connection is important. In fact, he has said that most airlines treat passengers like 18

43 THE CONNECTION CULTURE cattle and that jetblue is different because its crew members make personal connections with passengers. Neeleman s efforts have paid off as jetblue s reputation as a great place to work has spread. In 2002, when jetblue had to fill two thousand positions, it received 130,000 applications. 3 Could your organization find the best of the best if it had an application pool like that? Value also includes protecting people from the abuse of power, such as incivility, sexual misconduct or prejudice, and other actions that make people feel disconnected from their community because it failed to protect them. On a few rare occasions, Jack Mitchell, CEO of the retail clothier Mitchells/Richards/Marshs, has told customers to take their business elsewhere because they became verbally abusive to an employee. 4 Allan Loren, who led the turnaround of Dun and Bradstreet, established a rule that no meeting would be scheduled on Mondays or Fridays if it required people to travel over the weekend. He valued employees enough to protect their personal time. Loren also wanted to see them grow, so he matched everyone in the organization with a buddy who would provide continuous feedback about personal growth goals. Buddies were selected based on their strengths in areas in which a particular employee wanted to improve. Loren asked that employee satisfaction surveys be completed twice each year to see how people were doing. 5 Carl Sewell, CEO of Sewell Automotive in Dallas, one of the most successful automobile retailers nationwide, intentionally hires caring people and nurtures a caring culture that creates connection among employees and customers. His passion for hiring such employees intensified after he was treated for cancer by dedicated health-care professionals at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. 6 Sewell knows firsthand how uplifting it is to be around others who really value us. 19

44 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT CONNECTION CULTURE ELEMENT #3: VOICE The third element of a connection culture is voice. It exists in an organization when everyone seeks the ideas of others, shares ideas and opinions honestly, and safeguards relational connections. Seeking and considering people s ideas and opinions help meet the human needs for respect, recognition, and belonging. Being in the loop, so to speak, makes people feel connected to their colleagues, just as being out of the loop makes people feel disconnected. Voice also requires communicating in a way that is sensitive to the emotions of others. Being sensitive to people s feelings safeguards connections just as insensitivity quickly destroys them. A. G. Lafley, the CEO of Procter & Gamble, is a master of using voice to boost the performance of his organization. Lafley actively seeks people s views. When he meets with people, he tells them what s honestly on his mind before he asks them to share the issues they are thinking about. He encourages them to get the moose out of the closets before they grow into bigger problems. When he first became CEO, Lafley asked P&G s chief marketing officer to conduct a survey of employees and request their ideas, many of which he ended up implementing. Lafley knows how much it fires up people to see their ideas come to life. In his interactions with people, he makes it all about them rather than all about him. And the results he has helped produce have been stunning. When he became CEO, P&G was performing poorly and morale was low. In his first twelve months, Lafley led an effort that resulted in a substantial increase in employee approval 20

45 THE CONNECTION CULTURE of P&G s leadership and soaring profitability and stock price, so much so that P&G was able to acquire the Gillette Corporation. 7 THE CONNECTION FORMULA A good way to remember the elements in a connection culture is to remember the following formula: Vision + Value + Voice = Connection. When these elements of a connection culture are in place, it s a win-win for individuals and organizations. The following diagram maps the rationale that supports connection: the connection culture meets basic human psychological needs that help individuals and organizations thrive. In the next two chapters, we will examine two leaders and the cultures they created to illustrate what a connection culture is and what it is not. The first leader is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame where his biography credits him for producing teams that scaled unprecedented heights that no future organization in any sport is likely to approach. The second leader produced 21

46 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT spectacular results for a short time until the culture he created came back to haunt him. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION A connection culture is an environment that meets our basic psychological needs for respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth, and meaning. The elements of a connection culture are vision, value, and voice. Vision exists in an organization when everyone is motivated by the organization s mission, united by its values, and proud of its reputation. Value exists in an organization when everyone understands the basic psychological needs of people, appreciates their positive, unique contributions, and helps them achieve their potential. Voice exists in an organization when everyone seeks the ideas of others, shares ideas and opinions honestly, and safeguards relational connections. The connection formula is Vision + Value + Voice = Connection. Have you experienced a sense of connection in some workplaces but not in others? 22

47 THE CONNECTION CULTURE As a consumer, have you experienced connection with the people who work for a company from which you purchased goods or services? Have there been times you felt a sense of connection to your fellow citizens? Consider what you can learn from your personal experiences with connection. So what? A connection culture increases connection among people by increasing the cultural elements of vision, value, and voice. Leaders should be intentional about creating a connection culture in order to reap its benefits. 23

48 CHAPTER 4 CONNECTION AND THE LEGEND SSo often in life, good things bloom from the seeds of hardship. The personal character of a young teenager who went on to become a great leader was immeasurably shaped during the Depression when his family lost their farm in Indiana. His father s reaction to the loss was unusual: he wasn t bitter about it. Instead, his dad focused on the future and told his children that everything would be all right. And it was. During those impressionable years in this leader s life, he learned that, like the Depression, some things in life are not in our control. His father taught him that he should always strive to do his best at anything he chose to do and not worry about the outcome. He would later spread that philosophy to countless others. Another perspective he gained during those formative years was to value people. By watching his mom and dad and hearing the stories of faith they taught him, he learned the joy that came from making people and relationships his focus in life. The young boy grew up to be an outstanding high school and college basketball player in a state that was rabid about the game. After college he married Nell, the love of his life and the only 24

49 CONNECTION AND THE LEGEND woman he had ever dated. He taught high school English and coached basketball until 1943 when he enlisted to serve in the navy during World War II. When he returned from the war to the high school in South Bend, Indiana, where he previously taught, he was offered his old job. Other returning GIs were not, however, and so he refused the offer because he felt it was wrong for the school to deny veterans the jobs they had left to serve their country. Instead, he accepted an offer to become athletic director and head basketball coach at Indiana State Teachers College. 1 A CARING COACH For the season Indiana State received a postseason invitation to the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) national play-offs. After the coach learned that a young African-American second-string guard on his team, Clarence Walker, would not be allowed to participate in the tournament because of the color of his skin, he declined the offer. The following season NAIB officials invited Indiana State again, and this time decided they would allow Clarence to play, provided he didn t stay at the hotel with his teammates and wouldn t be seen publicly with them. Once again the coach declined. He and Nell thought of all the young men on the team as extended members of their family whom they loved, and the coach wasn t about to allow Clarence to be humiliated. But Clarence and his family saw it in a different light. They were excited about the opportunity for him to become the first African-American player in history to participate in the prestigious tournament. So they, along with officials from the NAACP, approached the coach to persuade him that attending the tournament would help, not hurt, Clarence and other African-American 25

50 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT players. The coach decided to accept the NAIB s offer, and the team packed up to head to the play-offs in Kansas City. On their way to the tournament, the team bus stopped for meals. If a restaurant wouldn t serve Clarence, the coach would make the team get back on the bus. Often the team had to pick up food at grocery stores along the way and eat on the bus. When Clarence finally walked onto the basketball court to warm up, he appeared to be nearly paralyzed with fear. Many people in the crowd spotted the courageous young man, and they began to applaud. Clarence Walker became the first African- American player to participate in the NAIB play-offs, and Indiana State made it to the finals, where they lost to Louisville. Because of Clarence s courage and his coach s resolve to stand up for what he believed in, the NAIB tournament was finally opened to African- American student-athletes. The following season three teams brought African-American players with them to the tournament. John Robert Wooden went on to become head basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins ( ). His fired up teams won more than 80 percent of their games and ten national championships, and had four perfect seasons. Coach Wooden was the first person in history to be inducted twice into the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1961, he was honored for his achievements as a player at Purdue University where he was All-American, college player of the year, and a leader of the Boilermakers 1932 National Championship Team. In 1973, he was honored for his achievements as a coach. In the summer of 2003, the ninety-two-year-old Wooden traveled to the White House, where he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America s highest civilian honor. 2 In December, with many of the players Wooden coached surrounding him at the ceremony, UCLA s Pauley Pavilion was renamed the Nell and John Wooden Court. 26

51 CONNECTION AND THE LEGEND THE SECRET OF HIS SUCCESS What was it about Wooden that produced such extraordinary success as a student-athlete and then as a coach? Bill Walton, the Hall of Fame basketball player and television sportscaster who played for the coach on two national championship teams, identified the essence of Wooden s success when he stated, [Coach Wooden] created an environment that people wanted to be a part of. 3 To begin with, that environment included vision. Wooden instilled a tremendous sense of pride in his players about being a part of the UCLA basketball team. He taught them, as Bill Walton wrote, If you lived up to your responsibilities as a student and a human being, then you earned the privilege of becoming a member of the UCLA basketball team. 4 Integral to meeting his standards was achieving the character values reflected in what he called the Pyramid of Success. The character values, or blocks of the pyramid, were industriousness, enthusiasm, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, self-control, alertness, initiative, intentness, condition, skill, and team spirit. Wooden taught his players that believing and behaving in a way consistent with these character values produced poise and confidence that resulted in competitive greatness (that is, the desire to continuously challenge oneself in life). Patience and faith make up the mortar that holds all of the blocks together. When the pyramid was built, the person met the standards that John Wooden believed made him a success and earned him the right to be called a member of the UCLA basketball team. Wooden taught and lived out the character values he wanted his players to adopt. They had a vision to strive for as individuals and together as a team. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest basketball players in history, who played his entire college career with Wooden, would later write, Coach Wooden had a profound 27

52 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT influence on me as an athlete, but even greater influence on me as a human being. He is responsible, in part, for the person I am today. 5 Bill Walton astutely observed that we have become John Wooden ourselves. 6 And in a sense they did by accepting Wooden s beliefs, his character values, as their own. As Wooden worked to reproduce people who shared the values reflected in the pyramid, the UCLA basketball team became more connected to their coach and to each other. Wooden infused the UCLA basketball team environment with value. It began with respect for everyone, regardless of a person s status on the team or in society. The way Wooden stood up for the returning GIs and Clarence Walker showed that he modeled respect for others. For much of his career Wooden worked alongside the student managers as they swept or mopped the basketball court before practices to set an example that no position was unimportant. He required even the best players to clean up after themselves in the locker room and not to expect the student managers to do it. All of his players were to be respectful toward flight attendants, waitresses and waiters, and hotel workers they encountered while traveling with the team. He always said, You re as good as anybody, but you re no better than anybody. Integral to Coach Wooden s view of valuing people was the notion of helping them reach their potential as basketball players and as people. Bill Walton described it this way: You were competing against an ideal, an abstract standard of excellence defined by John Wooden. The actual opponents mattered little. It was the ideal that mattered most. 7 Wooden pushed his players to be the best they were capable of becoming, running long and demanding practices. According to Walton, before and after practice, the coach was calm, but during practice sessions Wooden prowled the sidelines like a caged tiger... He never stopped moving, never stopped chat- 28

53 CONNECTION AND THE LEGEND tering away. Up and down the court he would pace, always barking out his pet little phrases... failing to prepare is preparing to fail... never mistake activity for achievement. He liked to say, Make the effort. Do your best. The score cannot make you a loser when you do that; it cannot make you a winner if you do less. 8 If his players didn t work hard enough during practice, as hard as he did preparing for it, he ordered them off the court, then had the student managers collect the balls, turn off the lights, and lock the doors. Coach Wooden operated a meritocracy that treated every player fairly. He didn t believe in the star system and told his players, The star of the team is the team. Wooden benched Sidney Wicks, one of the nation s best players, for a season because he wasn t passing to his open teammates. (The following year, a more selfless Wicks was awarded All-American honors and helped UCLA win a national championship.) No one s position was safe if Wooden felt another player had proven he could perform better for the team s sake. At the same time, however, he recognized that the nonstarters didn t receive the adulation that starters did. So he encouraged and affirmed them in practice, and as he said in an interview in 1996, I became a little closer with some of my players [who] didn t get to play very much. Another element in the environment created by Wooden was voice. He encouraged everyone to adopt an attitude of openness to ideas and opinions. One of his favorite sayings was when everybody thinks alike, nobody thinks. Wooden typically shared his opinions and encouraged others to share theirs before he made most decisions, unless time was of the essence, say, in the midst of a game. If asked for advice, Wooden would reply, I don t give advice; I give opinions. Wooden s tolerance for others views was tested when Bill Walton wrote a protest letter about the Vietnam War on the UCLA 29

54 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT basketball team stationery, had his teammates sign it, and asked Wooden if he would sign it too. Although the coach declined to sign, he allowed Walton to mail the letter to then President Richard Nixon. A stark contrast to the connection culture developed by John Wooden and the UCLA basketball team is the culture described in the following story of one of the most spectacular falls of a leader in recent history. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION John Wooden, the coach with (some would say) the best record in any sport, created a culture in the UCLA basketball team that included the elements of vision, value, and voice. Over the course of your life thus far, who has connected with and engaged, or even inspired, you the most? You should consider your parents, coaches, teachers, instructors, and the other leaders you have come in contact with as well as your friends, teammates, and colleagues at work. Why did they have that effect on you? Were their words or deeds that affected you aspects of vision, value, or voice? So what? Arguably the greatest coach ever in any sport created a connection culture, John Wooden was a role model who embodied vision, value, and voice. If you are a leader, how do you compare to John Wooden? How do the leaders in your organization compare to him, and how can they improve? 30

55 CHAPTER 5 TROUBLE IN TIMES SQUARE During the summer of 2003, Howell Raines was on top of the world. As executive editor of the New York Times, the fifty-nineyear-old Alabaman held one of the most powerful leadership positions in all of journalism. After the Times had garnered a record seven Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of September 11, Raines stood on the floor of the newsroom at Forty-third and Broadway in the heart of Times Square and boldly proclaimed to the staff that what they did will be studied and taught as long as journalism is... practiced. 1 Within a year he was fired. The less-than-two-year tenure of Howell Raines was the second shortest for an executive editor in the more than 150-year history of the New York Times. To understand what led to the fall of Howell Raines is to understand something basic about leadership and the culture leaders help create. Raines s fall wasn t due to his failure as a newspaperman. As a reporter, he was among the best in the business, having written a long list of outstanding articles and books and having received the coveted Pulitzer Prize. And Raines was determined to be successful. 31

56 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT He was known as a hard-charging leader who liked to say he was raising the competitive metabolism of the Times newsroom. Abundant knowledge of the business and resolve were not the issue. A CULTURE OF DISCONNECTION Raines s leadership style and the culture he created in the newsroom led to his undoing. His demise accelerated with the scandal and subsequent investigation of the plagiarism and fabrication by Jayson Blair, one of Raines s young star reporters. Smelling an opportunity to get rid of Raines, Times reporters lined up to testify against the way he ran the newsroom. Accounts of the situation as reported in the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal revealed the following: Employees viewed Raines as inaccessible and arrogant. Employees feared to disagree with Raines or bring him any bad news. Raines and his small circle of loyalists tightly controlled decision making and didn t trust department editors with decisions that normally would be theirs to make. Raines was perceived as unfairly applying a two-tier system that allowed stars such as Jayson Blair to skirt the rules while holding other newsroom employees to stricter reporting and editing standards. Policies that Raines had put in place regarding transfers and travel were so unpopular they caused talented reporters and a bureau chief to leave for other news organizations. 32

57 TROUBLE IN TIMES SQUARE In short, Howell Raines played favorites, denying many people opportunities to show what they were capable of doing. He centralized decisions and was perceived as not being open to constructive criticism. The people who were not in Raines s inner circle felt deeply disconnected. Vision, value, and voice were in short supply. It is not my intention to demonize Howell Raines. In fact, there is much to admire about him. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a touching story he wrote about the positive influence of Grady Hutchinson, his family s African-American housekeeper, on him as a child growing up in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Hutchinson has said that her relationship with Howell Raines has been one of the highlights in her life. Raines s book on the history of the civil rights struggle shows his desire to make a positive contribution to the world. I believe that Raines, like many, suffered from being blind to the effects of his words and actions on others. The culture that Raines created was more about power than principle. People with rank ordered others about. They learned from Raines that the powerful didn t need to consider the opinions of others; in fact, it was a sign of weakness to do so. Raines told colleagues that his father, a successful businessman, had once advised him that when an employee challenged him, he had to win that fight. Raines created a star system where the favored few, the stars, were not held to the rigorous journalistic standards that others were required to meet. Raines taught that power and privilege were paramount. Wooden taught that the principles of respect for others and sacrifice for the sake of your teammates and the team as a whole were the highest calling, and only by understanding and living by those values could you become a winner. 33

58 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT WOODEN AND RAINES: DIFFERENT CULTURES... DIFFERENT RESULTS The culture John Wooden created was a connection culture that fired up his team s spirits, and as a result, their performance soared! UCLA s unsurpassed record proves it. The culture Howell Raines created for those who were not in his inner circle was a culture of disconnection that was spirit numbing at best and spirit crushing at worst. Over time a culture that results in low connection or disconnection will burn out people; it s just a question of when. It s no surprise that the pent-up frustration in the New York Times newsroom led to a mutiny when the investigation over the Jayson Blair debacle ensued and many of the newsroom employees sensed Raines was vulnerable. As the Wall Street Journal reported, In the end, Mr. Raines demise came swiftly... he had few... allies. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Howell Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times, achieved success for a while until the culture he created came back to haunt him. His words and actions made the people he considered to be stars feel connected and engaged while others felt disconnected and subsequently pounced on him when he became politically vulnerable. What will your legacy be with your family, your colleagues at work, and your friends and acquaintances in your community? Will you be fondly remembered as a person who fired up people, or will people revile you for wearing them down, discouraging or ignoring them? 34

59 TROUBLE IN TIMES SQUARE So what? If you are in a culture that has little connection, like the culture Howell Raines created in the New York Times newsroom, look for ways to increase connection, or get out and find a connection culture where you can thrive. 35

60 CHAPTER 6 THE NEXT STEP IN THE EVOLUTION OF ORGANIZATIONS MMost organizations today have become masters of task excellence, that is, the hard, quantitative, and analytically oriented aspects of business implicit in such areas as Six Sigma (a statistically oriented quality improvement program) and competitive benchmarking (the practice of comparing objective measures such as sales, profits, or inventory level to those of one s competitors). Unfortunately, organizations that focus on task excellence alone will fail to meet the basic human psychological needs that maximize employees contributions to the organization. 1 More and more leaders are beginning to see that, absent the connection and engagement that results when these needs are met, peak performance is not sustainable. With task excellence alone, success is fleeting. People are both the problem and the solution. We need one another to accomplish great things, but we operate toward one another as if it s all about me. The solution to this problem is to create a connection culture that will meet our psychological needs. 36

61 THE NEXT STEP IN THE EVOLUTION OF ORGANIZATIONS STAR SYSTEMS ON STEROIDS The prevalence and extreme nature of star systems today contribute to widespread employee disconnection and disengagement. Employees can be regarded as stars, core employees, or strugglers. Stars are superior performers. They are either a part of senior management or on track to move up the organization s hierarchy. Core employees are valuable contributors but not stars. Strugglers perform poorly, some for temporary reasons and others because they may not fit well in their roles or with the company. Star systems affect the economic, political, and social aspects of organizations. Leaders are more likely to favor stars economically by paying them more; politically by keeping them more informed, listening to and considering their points of view; and socially by spending more time with them and treating them as if they are superior human beings. Be assured, the favoritism is noticed. The star system is similar to a caste system: the stars are Brahman or gentry, strugglers are the untouchables or peasants, and core employees fall somewhere in between. This system makes most employees feel like second-class citizens. 2 Please understand that I do not oppose linking rewards to performance. I do believe, however, that it can be carried too far not only economically an issue that the media regularly focuses on but also and perhaps more important, politically and socially, especially in light of the value provided by core employees. Research by Thomas DeLong at Harvard Business School and Vineeta Vijayaraghavan of Katzenbach Partners sheds some light on categorizing employees. Their research has shown that B players (whom I prefer to call core employees) are just as critical, and often more so, to an organization s success as its stars. Core employees comprise the vast majority of an organization s 37

62 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT employees. They are often just as intelligent, talented, and knowledgeable as stars, yet they differ from them in several respects: Core employees are less likely to call attention to themselves. Core employees are less likely to leave their current employers for greener pastures. Core employees are quietly dedicated to their work and to their teammates. Not all core employees are alike. Some core employees are former stars who now seek greater work/life balance. Others are goto players who help their colleagues navigate the organization. Still other core employees are truth tellers who, although blunt at times in their criticism, help assure the organization addresses important issues that others may be less willing to raise. 3 With the prolonged state of employee disengagement and disconnection there is good reason to believe that companies are vulnerable to losing many core employees in the years ahead. The reason: core employees feel their ideas and opinions are not sought or heard, and they are not respected or recognized for their work. At some level this lack of consideration is discouraging, and over time they become frustrated. Although they know that they re valuable, feeling underappreciated keeps them from putting their hearts into their work. Other factors contributing to the disconnection and disengagement of core employees has been the stream of high-profile cases of corporate malfeasance, several consecutive years of downsizing, and the compensation differential between the company s stars and the rest of the employees. Employee loyalty has waned; the relationship between most workers and leaders has eroded. 38

63 THE NEXT STEP IN THE EVOLUTION OF ORGANIZATIONS Whether leaders realize it or not, they are sending the message to core employees that they are second-class citizens, that shareholders and the company s stars are one team and the rest of the employees are another. The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of the stars. Organizations need to treat everyone with dignity and respect within a meritocracy that allocates important projects to stars while giving core employees opportunities to prove that they can be stars too. PUTTING THE CORPUS BACK INTO CORPORATIONS One organization that balances meritocracy with connecting and engaging core employees is the United States Marine Corps. Given its mission, the Marine Corps cannot afford to tolerate suboptimal performance from any members. To get the best performance out of everyone, the Marines have adopted inclusive practices to make all members feel like a part of the team. In the Marine Corps everyone is considered important, and all complete leadership training. With this level of expectation and respect for the contribution of all members, it should come as no surprise that in a McKinsey & Company/Conference Board study of thirty organizations known to have engaged frontline workers, the Marine Corps was cited as the best. 4 The English word corporation is derived from the Latin corpus, which means body. When people come together to work toward a common purpose or to accomplish a common mission, they can secure state approval to become a legal corporation. This newly created body is comprised of individuals connected to one another via the corporate relationship and each with a specific role to play as a part of the whole. 39

64 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT If we are to solve the problems of employee disconnection, disengagement, and burnout, as well as the societal ills flowing from them, one means will surely be to put the corpus back into corporations. In other words, we need to adopt the mind-set that as members of corporations, we are in community with one another, linked together so that what damages any member of the body harms everyone else and, likewise, what strengthens any member strengthens everyone else. We need to build internal relationships that create trusted colleagues rather than internal competitors. We need to channel our competitive energy toward reaching our individual and corporate potential in the same way that Coach John Wooden encouraged his players to reach their individual potential rather than focus on beating a teammate. Let s face it, people are complicated. With a connection culture, I am not advocating having employees standing around, holding hands, and singing Kum Ba Yah. I am not promoting a warm and fuzzy work environment or employee group therapy sessions. I know that you may not like all of your fellow workers. That said, creating a work environment that cultivates healthy self-esteem and strong working relationships is common sense, yet uncommon in practice. Wise leaders are beginning to see the gap between what exists today and what we all long for. These leaders are ushering in a new era in the evolution of organizations. One day it will be widely acknowledged that task excellence is only part of what s necessary for organizations to achieve sustainable superior performance. People will eventually understand that the soft issues that increase connection among people are essential to any organization that aspires to be the best. It will also be recognized that star systems carried to extremes can be destructive to longterm organizational health because they sow disconnection. 40

65 THE NEXT STEP IN THE EVOLUTION OF ORGANIZATIONS Leaders and organizations that take action to increase connection will thrive. Many of those that don t will not survive as their better-connected, more-productive, and more-innovative competitors filled with fired up people pass them by. In Part II we will look more closely at the three elements in a connection culture that will drive this change. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Task excellence is not enough. Organizations must also have the relationship excellence that results from connection to achieve sustainable superior performance. A star system in an organization usually results in creating a large class of marginalized core employees who are, in reality, the foundation of the organization. The elements in a connection culture vision, value, and voice work in concert to ensure that the foundational human needs are met in legitimate ways. Have the leaders in your organization created a culture of connection that engages people? If you are a leader, do you actively value people and seek to help them achieve their potential? So what? Meeting the basic human psychological needs increases connection and results in a greater level of fired up people who are more productive and more innovative. This is not a nice to have ; it s a must have in any successful organization. Without it, workers will, at best, underperform and, at worst, sabotage the organization. 41


67 PART II THE THREE KEYS TO CONNECTING YOUR TEAM AND LIGHTING THEIR FIRES: VISION,VALUE, AND VOICE In Part II you will learn... how the elements of vision, value, and voice are reflected in the richer concepts of inspiring identity, human value, and knowledge flow. what the elements of a connection culture look like in an organization through modern and historical examples. how to apply the elements and increase connection in organizational environments. 43

68 CHAPTER 7 INSPIRE WITH IDENTITY IIn Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman s insightful book Organizing Genius, they tell the story of America s race to make an atomic bomb before the Nazis during World War II. The Manhattan Project, as it was called, represented one of the most challenging and significant scientific accomplishments in history. The story began in 1939 when Albert Einstein learned from three Hungarian physicists who had defected to America that the Nazis were trying to build an atomic bomb. Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt warning him that he believed the Nazis might find a way to do it. Within days of receiving Einstein s letter, FDR established an advisory committee to investigate using atomic energy for national defense. During 1941 and 1942, research was conducted at four universities: Columbia, Princeton, Berkeley, and Chicago. By mid- 1942, the project had become the number-one defense priority with a $2 billion budget. In the fall, soon-to-be Brigadier General Leslie Groves was appointed to head the project following his stint building the Pentagon. Groves, a 250- to 300-pound crusty 44

69 INSPIRE WITH IDENTITY veteran career officer, began to pull together the people and the resources to make it happen. On December 2, 1942, a team led by Enrico Fermi, a brilliant physicist, successfully created a self-sustaining nuclear reaction in an unused squash court under the University of Chicago s football stadium. It was a pivotal moment that meant the project could shift to producing an atomic bomb since the concept had been proven. General Groves identified a tall, gangly thirty-eight-year-old quantum physicist at Cal Tech, J. Robert Oppenheimer, to be the technical leader of the scientists and engineers. Although military intelligence officials objected to Oppenheimer because of his Communist Party connections, General Groves insisted that he was the best person for the job. Refusing to back down, the persistent Groves got Oppenheimer approved. 1 One scientist on the project was a young genius from Princeton named Richard Feynman who was to supervise technicians supporting the project. For security reasons, the army did not want the technicians to know the purpose of the project. As a result, it was difficult for them to put their hearts into their work. Their productivity was lackluster, and the quality of their work was disappointing. Feynman asked Oppenheimer to let him inform the technicians about the project s purpose. His request approved, Feynman explained to the technicians what they were working on, its importance to the war effort, and the value of their contribution to the overall project. After the technicians understood the meaning of their work, Feynman said he witnessed: Complete transformation! They began to invent ways of doing it better. They improved the scheme. They worked at night. They didn t need supervising in the night; they didn t need 45

70 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT anything. They understood everything; they invented several of the programs that we used... my boys really came through, and all that had to be done was to tell them what it was, that s all. As a result, although it took them nine months to do three problems before, we did nine problems in three months, which is nearly ten times as fast. 2 The technicians improved productivity and innovation helped the Allies beat Hitler in the race to make an atomic bomb. On the morning of July 16, 1945, the Manhattan Project team watched as the first atomic bomb was exploded in the New Mexico desert. Their efforts gave the Allies a decisive edge in the war. Regardless of your personal feelings about the development and use of the atomic bomb, this bit of history is one clear example of the power in helping people find meaning in their work. THE ORGANIZATION S STORY IS MY STORY TOO Each one of us has a personal identity, in other words, how we think about ourselves. This internal identity is shaped by a host of factors, such as where we grew up, how we were raised, the schools we attended, and the people and events in our lives that influenced our beliefs and our aspirations. Our identities are expressed externally in where we work, what organizations we belong to (other than work), what we wear, what we drive, where we live, and so on. Identity influences almost everything we do. Savvy marketers understand this and shape brands to appeal to how we like to think of ourselves. Organizations have identities too. I like to think of identity as the story of an individual or organization. Some stories, such as 46

71 INSPIRE WITH IDENTITY those of the Marine Corps, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Apple Computer, provide tremendous inspiration to the people who are a part of them and who, through their words and deeds, continue to write new chapters in the identity story of their organizations. Part I introduced the terms vision, value, and voice as an easy way to remember the elements in a connection culture. As we dig deeper into each element, I want to expand the terms to capture the full breadth and depth of their significance. Vision represents the cultural element of inspiring identity. To be effective here, it s necessary to go beyond task thinking and transform the way people think about the organization. The inspiring identity of an organization helps to satisfy the sense of purpose, significance, and pride we all crave. It bears repeating that unless you inspire people, you have not added this element to the work environment. And absent inspiration that fires them up, people just show up for duty. WE BAND OF BROTHERS In 1415 King Henry V of England led thirteen thousand of his men in battle against fifty thousand Frenchmen near the village of Agincourt in northern France. The young king came to France because he felt that the French were controlling territory that rightfully belonged to him. Henry and his small army were there to take it back. And that s exactly what they did. Although heavily outnumbered by nearly four to one, Henry and his men routed the French forces in one of the greatest battles in English history. Historian Simon Schama described Henry as the darkhaired, pale-faced, unnervingly sober king... St. George and a 47

72 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Galahad wrapped up in one unbeatable package. 3 No doubt about it, Henry was one capable king on a mission. But how did he motivate the Englishmen to follow him into a battle when they were so overwhelmingly outnumbered? William Shakespeare was fascinated by this question, too, and he wrote about it in the play Henry V that immortalized Henry and the battle at Agincourt. According to Shakespeare s account, Henry s troops had their doubts as they looked upon the heavily armored, highly skilled French lords and knights. King Henry had to do something to give his troops the resolve to fight and win in the face of enormous odds against them. As the battle was about to begin, Henry overheard some fellow Englishmen wishing they could be back in England rather than fighting the French. Knowing that he needed to get the best out of his men, he decided to address them. He began by questioning why anyone would want to miss out on the victory ahead. He then promised anyone who joined with him that... we in it shall be remember d, We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin s day. 4 Henry knew, or at least Shakespeare thought he did, that appealing to the men s desire for recognition, respect, and meaning in their lives was the key to unleashing their energy. Promising that anyone who fought alongside him in this glorious battle 48

73 INSPIRE WITH IDENTITY would be considered, in a sense, one of Henry s band of brothers, regardless of how lowly or vile a particular soldier was, was heady stuff for men who believed that they were born into their stations in life and that the young Henry was appointed by God to rule England. By fighting alongside Henry, these soldiers believed they were becoming part of a relatively small number of men who would always be looked up to for their amazing victory. It gave them something to be proud of. It would make somebodies out of nobodies by transforming their identities. Helping people to achieve the respectable status that they crave is a powerful motivator. King Henry V elevated those who fought with him from their lowly positions in society, a stigma that made them feel devalued. By restoring their sense of value and elevating their status, their identity, Henry tapped into a way of engaging and energizing his soldiers. King Henry V was so successful that by the time of his death from disease seven years later, he had taken control of half of France. MEANING MATTERS Instilling a sense of purpose in the minds of people can transform them. Dr. Viktor Frankl, the great Viennese psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, wrote in his seminal work Man s Search for Meaning that the survivors of concentration camps looked to the future and found meaning in their lives. Without meaning, people feel empty and apathetic. Frankl explained that most people find meaning in work or love. 5 For the technicians working on the Manhattan Project, knowing the importance of their work motivated them, and their productivity increased tenfold. For the soldiers fighting alongside King Henry V, their victory at 49

74 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Agincourt assured them a meaningful position in medieval society. In the next chapter we will consider several ways to bring meaning to work. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Inspiring identity exists in an organization when everyone is motivated by the organization s mission, united by its values, and proud of its reputation. Individuals have stories about their identities that influence them. Organizations have identity stories that influence individuals too. After physicist Richard Feynman explained the meaning of the Manhattan Project to the supporting engineers (that they were racing against the Nazis to build a nuclear bomb), their productivity increased nearly tenfold. According to Shakespeare, King Henry V defeated the French at Agincourt in part because he inspired his soldiers to think of how proud they would be when they returned to England as victors in this historic battle. He gave them an inspiring identity. According to psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, most people find meaning in work or love. In your workplace, how do people find meaning in their work? So what? Leaders need to bring meaning to their organizations because an individual s work is an important part of his personal identity. 50

75 CHAPTER 8 CREATE MEANING IN YOUR ORGANIZATION WWell, you might be thinking, it s easy to find meaning when you are racing to save the civilized world from Hitler, but how can I provide meaning to employees who are making electric motors or providing financial services? Although it s not as obvious, it is achievable. Let me identify a few ways in which leaders can provide meaning and significance to the work of the people they lead. 1. Be an innovator. One way to find meaning in work is to show how you are bringing something new or different to the marketplace. Harvard Business School s Michael Porter put it this way: In great companies, strategy becomes a cause. That s because strategy is about being different. So if you have a really great strategy, people are fired up: We re not just another airline. We re bringing something new to the world. 1 In his humorous and fascinating book On Paradise Drive, astute social critic David Brooks observed this about people who have a vision to bring something new to the market: 51

76 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT The press concentrates its attention on the remarkable figures, the dot-com geniuses, the zillionaire investment bankers, or the paradigm-shifting, over-the-horizon-peering, outside-thebox-thinking corporate rebels who let their wacky but brilliant employees scooter down the company hallways while squirting each other with Super Soaker water cannons. But the real engines of American capitalism are the people you see in the most unremarkable locales sitting around in the bland office parks or checking in to the suite hotels... Perhaps one of the people... dreams of revolutionizing supermarket razor displays... Maybe others spend their days thinking about how to reduce glare on cash register displays so that older employees can read them better; or perhaps they obsess over how to speed up the receipt printer so that supermarket lines can move a tiny bit faster...these are the drivers of the American economy. 2 Brooks goes on to explain how many individuals are driven by what he refers to as a Paradise Spell, a vision of a better future that propels them to work hard so that they might achieve it. It is another way of saying that these driven individuals are motivated to bring something new to the world. Being an innovator is part of their personal story, part of their identity. Do the members in your organization feel like innovators? 2. Inspire your team to reach a challenging goal. Another way to fire up the spirit of healthy competition and bring meaning to work is to give people a challenge or set a goal to be the best organization in your business at some measure such as revenue, profit, or client satisfaction. This works especially well if you have access to benchmarking information that lets you see how your 52

77 CREATE MEANING IN YOUR ORGANIZATION organization s performance compares to your competitors. Being the leader of something enhances a person s identity. Often leaders try to create internal competition among individuals within a unit. Although internal competition may motivate employees, it also destroys trust and cooperation. You don t want individuals in a unit to perceive each other as competitors rather than colleagues, especially if successful performance requires a high degree of teamwork. You want them to focus energy on external competitors or on individual best efforts. Coach John Wooden told his basketball players that success is the peace of mind that comes from knowing you gave your very best effort in every practice and every game rather than focusing on anything outside your control. As a result, Wooden s players relentlessly pushed themselves to live up to their own personal standards. In an effort to stir the pot, some leaders make individual performance results available for all to see, thus shaming individuals with poor performance. A better approach is to use performance measures as benchmarks to identify whether individuals are in the right role or have performance issues that can be corrected. I do not mean just looking at quarterly data, however, but taking into account a longer time frame. Everyone experiences slumps for one reason or another, and examining only a short period of time is myopic. Shaming someone by making his performance numbers public violates the element of human value (we will discuss it in later chapters). If a person is not performing after attempts have been made to help him, it is best to reevaluate the individual s skills, temperament, and so forth and make every effort to move him into the appropriate role. If one doesn t exist, assist him with a severance and outplacement package that eases his transition to another organization. People in your company will see that you 53

78 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT treated the underperformer with dignity and respect, and your organization will be more appealing to the remaining employees. 3. Communicate your inspiring identity upfront. New employee orientation often consists of merely a member from each department briefly explaining the department s activities along with a review of who s who. Great leaders take the time to invest in new employees upfront so that they may understand the organization, its meaning, and their role in it. Educating new members begins with a well-planned orientation program. The more thorough understanding people have of their organization, the more they will feel connected. As I mentioned earlier, in the mid-to late-1990s, McKinsey & Company and The Conference Board jointly studied thirty organizations known to have engaged frontline workers, and the project team concluded the United States Marine Corps outperformed all other organizations in motivating its frontline members. One of the best practices of the Corps is inculcating the meaning of its work to new recruits during the twelve-week boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. The Marines best leaders teach recruits the values of honor, courage, and commitment. During boot camp, recruits learn the words and meaning of the Marines Hymn, including these key phrases: we fight our country s battles, first to fight for right and freedom, we have fought in every clime and place where we could take a gun, and in many a strife, we ve fought for life. The recruits are not called Marines until they have successfully completed the portion of the boot camp called The Crucible. Various stages of The Crucible include evaluations that are named after Medal of Honor recipients. Recruits learn the stories of Medal of Honor recipients such as Daniel Daly. 54

79 CREATE MEANING IN YOUR ORGANIZATION During World War I at Belleau Wood in France, Daly armed with hand grenades and a pistol single-handedly attacked and defeated an enemy machine gun emplacement. Later that same day and while under enemy attack, Daly brought in wounded from the battlefield. He would have been awarded the Medal of Honor, but he already had been awarded two others the maximum allowed. 3 With upfront orientation that includes other similar stories, it should be no surprise that when you ask a Marine what s so special about the Marine Corps, he or she will reply, esprit de corps, a French phrase meaning the spirit of the group. The Corps spirit is the foundation that produces a lifelong commitment reflected in the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis (Latin for always faithful ). 4. Consistently communicate your inspiring identity. Every leader should aspire not only to create but also to sustain an organization and environment where everyone is united by a common desire to be always faithful to the organization s vision and its members. We all long to be part of an organization that is worthy of our heartfelt, sincere commitment. Corporate leaders need to see themselves as chief spiritual officers, if you will, in the sense that they are responsible for creating and sustaining the conditions that foster employee commitment and infusing their team with a desire to achieve the mission. They can do this by continuously spreading the vision, mission, and values of the organization and linking in the minds of employees the company s inspiring identity to its current situation, tactical action plans, and strategy. Abraham Lincoln, FDR, and Winston Churchill were just a few of the great leaders who kept an inspiring identity in front of the people and called upon them to put forth the extra effort to accomplish their common goal. 55

80 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT 5. Employ the power of the pen. Historically, great leaders have used public speaking and writing to persuade people and influence their behavior. Thomas Paine s pamphlet Common Sense had a tremendous effect on starting the American Revolution, as did Patrick Henry s give me liberty or give me death speech. Martin Luther King Jr. s I Have a Dream speech and Letter from Birmingham Jail are perhaps two of the most important pieces of persuasive communications that contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of In the world of business, Pour Your Heart into It by Howard Schultz of Starbucks is an outstanding book that tells a compelling story about a company, its history, and meaning. Clicks and Mortar by David Pottruck, former CEO of Charles Schwab, and Terry Pierce is another excellent example in this genre. Steve Jobs s speeches to Apple employees inspired them to think differently. One fine example of a written articulation of a group s inspiring identity comes from the U.S. Navy. Here are excerpts from the USS Montpelier Command Philosophy, written by the commander of the USS Montpelier, a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine commissioned in 1993 that has won several of the navy s highest awards for its stellar performance: MONTPELIER COMMAND PHILOSOPHY Montpelier is a warship, designed to steam into harm s way and win. Our flesh and blood bring this ship to life. We are stewards of one of the most capable warships in the history of mankind. These thoughts provide a framework for executing that stewardship and for building the teamwork that will enable us to fight and win in war. 56

81 CREATE MEANING IN YOUR ORGANIZATION Honesty. Honesty provides the foundation of trust that is essential to teamwork. I expect and require that you be completely honest in your communication with your shipmates. I will do the same with you. At times, this will be painful, but it is extremely important that we have the facts when making decisions and that our relationships are based on mutual trust. I pledge not to kill the messenger. Integrity. Do the right thing; don t take the expedient path. If you are not sure what the right thing is, and you have the opportunity, ask. If you can t, trust your judgment and training. This requires a great deal of courage, but if you act honestly and faithfully in this regard, you will not be second-guessed. Teamwork. No ship, department, or division is successful as a one-man show. Teamwork is the key to success. Our actions must reinforce this concept. If you find yourself thinking about a problem in the command and the word they pops into your head, think again. We will solve problems together. I am not one of them and neither are you. Open-Door Policy. Leadership is about setting priorities. If you have an idea for a better way, suggest it. My door is always open to discuss your concerns. I trust that you will use the chain of command when possible. Caring Leadership. Know your people. Translate your caring into tangible results. Get them off the ship when you can. Ensure they are ready for advancement. Make a difference in their lives. Mistakes. Honest mistakes come with the territory. I will make some and so will you. The keys to success are establishing enough backups so that we don t make a critical mistake and recognizing and learning from the mistakes that we do make. Your tour will be filled with many ups and downs. It is not how many times you fall 57

82 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT that will determine your success. Your honesty, integrity, and determination to fight on, will. Fitness and Sleep. Submarining requires stamina. Fitness, nutrition, and sleep are key to your decision-making. As General Patton said, Fatigue makes cowards of us all. Take care of your body and your mind. I do not judge you on how long you work or how long you stay awake, but on how effective you are. Standards. The standard is excellence in all we do. Aristotle said, We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is a habit. Our reputation is determined in a large part due to how we execute routine evolutions, our personal appearance and the appearance of our ship. It is the sum of each of our actions. Set the standard. Fun. Submarining is an extremely challenging and demanding profession. At times the hours will be long and the work hard, but it is important that we have fun while fulfilling our responsibilities. Work/Life Balance and Community. Success at work is interwoven with success at home. I consider it vital that we balance our military duties with our roles in the family. Take advantage of opportunities to make time for your family and work hard to keep your professional role and your family role in perspective. It is also important that our families understand the importance of our mission and that we recognize the sacrifices that our family members must make in order to fulfill our duties. Service is a team effort. I will make an effort to create a family environment on board and to support our families. A successful command has a family atmosphere, where every member takes pride in being a part of the team. Personal Development. I expect every Sailor to be working towards his personal and professional development, and I will support your actions in these areas. Critical Self-Assessment. Our ability to improve is dependent 58

83 CREATE MEANING IN YOUR ORGANIZATION on our ability to analyze the causes of our failures and to take action to address those problems. At times, we will formally critique events. The intent is to fix the problem, not the blame. Honesty is critical to this process. Decision Making. I will not establish a lot of detailed policies to spell out and legislate decisions on board. I will balance the long- and short-term needs of each individual, the ship, and the U.S. Navy. If time allows, I will make every effort to explain my decision, but there will be times when it is not practical and I expect you to trust my judgment. Equality. We swear to support the Constitution of the United States, which states that all men are created equal. I expect you to treat each of your shipmates, our families, and our visitors with dignity and respect. Ambassadors. Overseas, we are ambassadors of the United States. At home, we are representatives of the submarine force, the Navy, and the U.S. Military. Our behavior and actions should reflect the pride and responsibility we feel as members of an elite military organization. Service and Reward. My ultimate goal is that you consider your service on board one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. This requires that you resolve to better yourself, your ship, your shipmates, and your country. Each night when you go to sleep ask yourself, What have I done today to make myself a better man? How have I made Montpelier a better ship? Have I been a faithful steward of one of our country s most valuable assets, this ship and the outstanding Sailors who fight her? These are my thoughts, just words on paper. Our actions together make them a reality and the key to our success. 59

84 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT The Montpelier Command Philosophy provides us with a sense of the leader who wrote it, someone who was direct, honest, and personally committed to the mission. It is a sincere, authentic expression of this leader s beliefs. It addresses the fundamental issues of inspiring identity. Effective leaders know that they must provide meaning so that others will commit to and make sacrifices for the sake of the mission. To provide meaning, leaders must make an investment of their time to fully understand it and to communicate it in a way that reaches the hearts and minds of the people they lead. The Command Philosophy reflects a great deal of thought and preparation, and it has the mark of a leader willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the mission and for the sake of the people he leads. Creating and communicating an inspiring identity to help people become mission-minded makes a difference in their performance. Great leaders know the importance of connecting people through a shared identity that inspires them. Leaders who shirk this responsibility, often because they let the urgent tasks crowd out the significant ones, fail to fully engage and fire up the people they lead. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION A successful organization must have a clearly defined identity that inspires people. A few ways to inspire people include appealing to their personal identity and the aspects it shares with the organization s identity, establishing the value of your work to clients and/or society, providing a challenge, or bringing something new to the world. 60

85 CREATE MEANING IN YOUR ORGANIZATION Try to find multiple ways to communicate your organization s inspiring identity, including stories, visual depictions, facts and figures, pithy sayings, and video clips. Doing this will help you reach people with different thinking and learning styles. The written word is especially effective because people can come back to it. Share! Share! Share! Keep the inspiring identity in front of people. So what? To increase connection among people at work, individuals need to see that their organization s identity adds something to their personal identity. Can you articulate your company s identity in a clear, compelling, and understandable fashion? Are there aspects of your company s identity that fit with how you like to think about yourself? 61

86 CHAPTER 9 DELETE WHAT DEVALUES TThe next cultural element in a connection culture is value, which I will refer to as human value as we take a deeper look at this element. Human value recognizes that all people have feelings and that being valued matters to them. It also recognizes that appreciating a person s talents and helping him achieve his potential encourages him. He becomes fired up and feels more connected to the group when he is part of a culture that embraces human value. The American Revolution and America s subsequent economic success are vivid historical examples of the power of human value. King George III s inability to understand human value forever connected his legacy to a monumental managerial blunder: losing the American colonies. FROM OUTPOST TO EMPIRE What motivated a ragtag collection of colonial citizen-soldiers who were woefully ill-equipped and ill-trained to defeat the most 62

87 DELETE WHAT DEVALUES powerful military in the world? One reason was King George III s condescension toward the colonists. At the time of the Revolution, many Englishmen regarded the colonists as inferior. With that prevailing view the king felt he could throw his considerable weight around and get away with abusing his power. To raise money to pay the debts incurred by England while defending the colonies during the French and Indian War, King George levied taxes on the colonists without their consent. Given the chip on the colonists shoulders resulting from the disdainful attitude of the English, that was the straw that broke the camel s back. The colonists viewed taxation without representation as a violation of their rights as citizens of the British Empire and equated it to being treated as slaves by the English king and Parliament. 1 The king s actions provoked the fury of a people who already felt scorned. Thanks to King George, the thirteen separate colonies came together, formed a militia and, with assistance from France and financial resources from Holland, won their independence. The brand-new country expanded human value with a series of actions. With the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, America protected the voting and civil rights of white males. The nation s increasing investment in education and public infrastructure empowered its citizens, giving them greater opportunities to achieve their potential and realize what would become known as the American Dream. The economic opportunity and social mobility increased engagement and the sense of connection among Americans. They responded by producing extraordinary economic growth. Historian Gordon Wood wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, that in less than fifty years America went: 63

88 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT [from] less than two million monarchical subjects... on the margin of civilization... [to] a giant, almost continent-wide republic of nearly ten million egalitarian-minded bustling citizens who not only had thrust themselves into the vanguard of history but had fundamentally altered their society and their social relationships... [Americans] had become, almost overnight, the most [free], the most democratic, the most commercially minded, and the most modern people in the world. 2 Today, America is the undisputed global economic leader. In addition to America s economy being the largest in the world, it is a fertile culture for innovation. Of the recent Nobel laureates in economics, three-fourths reside and work in America. American movies account for more than 80 percent of global box-office revenues. American pharmaceutical companies invent more drugs than all other drug companies outside the USA combined. America accounts for 40 percent of the world s technology expenditures, and American venture capital firms are far more numerous than firms outside the USA. 3 As it turned out, expanding human value in America was not only right, it was also wise! Human value contributed to a modern-day miracle: the transformation of an outpost of civilization into the most powerful national economy the world has ever witnessed. Human value in a culture is, first of all, about treating people with respect and dignity, and second, about empowering them to achieve their potential. In the rest of this chapter, I ll describe how leaders can remove obstacles in an environment that make people feel devalued, and in the following chapter, I ll recommend how leaders can add elements to an environment that make people feel valued. 64

89 DELETE WHAT DEVALUES FIRST,DO NO HARM In the age-old Hippocratic Oath that physicians take before they begin to practice medicine, they pledge first to do no harm to their patients. Likewise, the first step for any leader who wants to engage his or her people and increase connection is to eliminate behaviors and attitudes in the culture that do harm to people by devaluing them. Let s consider a few areas where you can do this. 1. Eliminate disrespectful, condescending, and rude behavior. People are devalued when they are subjected to uncivil behavior in the workplace. Obviously, physical aggression is wrong. Less obvious is verbal abuse, especially if it is not clear that the instigator intended to harm the target. Remember the childhood phrase sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me? The truth is, words can and do hurt. Most of us have witnessed managers berating the views of lower-ranking employees during meetings. These senior managers may reject others ideas without explaining their reasons why. Likewise, they may assert that their views are obviously superior without allowing a dialogue on the pros and cons of their position or on the alternatives. This approach is just one example of incivility in an organizational culture. Uncivil behavior can take many forms, including interrupting someone who is speaking, giving someone the silent treatment, or completely ignoring someone. Generally, any action meant to humiliate, intimidate, undermine, or destroy a colleague in the workplace is uncivil and should be forbidden. Unfortunately, patronizing behavior at work is too common. A 2001 survey of 1,180 workers found that 71 percent of them reported experiencing disrespectful, rude, or condescending 65

90 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT behavior from superiors or coworkers within the last five years. One out of every four of these workers confronted the offender, and 75 percent of them experienced retaliation because they spoke out. 4 Disrespectful, condescending, and rude behavior must be eliminated from the corporate culture if we are to engage and energize people. When someone consistently exhibits uncivil behavior, he needs to know that it damages connection and is unacceptable. It should be made clear that continuing such behavior will bring about the perpetrator s removal. A leader who allows someone in his chain of command to commit uncivil behavior also needs to be held accountable. If left unchecked, uncivil behavior in the workplace will spread. Second-in-command leaders tend to adopt the leadership practices of their bosses whether they are civil or uncivil. The only way to eliminate this corrosive behavior is for leaders to model civil behavior and take action to remove people who have proven themselves incapable of reform. 2. Go easy on the criticism. Another devaluing behavior is excessive criticism. Wise leaders know how to provide useful input with the goal of improving performance without adding undue pressure that could contribute to a loss of confidence. Joe Torre, the phenomenally successful manager of the New York Yankees, knows to go easy on his players. His approach stems from personal experience with the frustration that came during disappointing times in his career as a ballplayer. I hit.360 one season, and I hit.240 another year, and I felt I played equally hard both years, said Torre in a Fortune magazine article that heralded him as a model for today s corporate managers. Former Yankees superstar Paul O Neill said this about Torre: Joe doesn t put 66

91 DELETE WHAT DEVALUES added pressure on you or act differently toward you because you re not hitting well or playing well. Players pick up on these things. Yankees pitcher Mike Stanton added, With Joe you really don t have to look over your shoulder, because you ll lose confidence in yourself long before Joe loses confidence in you. He ll say, I remember what you did for me. I remember what you did for this organization. 5 A good leader can take care of those he leads and still be performance-oriented. Task excellence is critical to his success. Leaders don t reach the top of their professions by avoiding performance problems. The difference is that they place themselves in the shoes of their employees to understand how to get things done in a way that shows appreciation and respect. They improve tasks by nurturing a healthy work culture that values people and helps them feel more connected to their team. 3. Minimize unnecessary rules and excessive controls. Unnecessary rules and excessive controls devalue people by making them feel that they are not trusted or respected. A leader who overcontrols his people will not engage or energize them. Micromanaged employees are more likely to feel disconnected. Another universal human need is to have a reasonable degree of autonomy or freedom to do our work so that we might have a greater sense of control and experience personal growth as we develop new skills and expertise. Napoleon was known for micromanaging. After the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror that succeeded it, Napoleon restored order to the nation. Unfortunately, he didn t know when to limit his controlling tendencies. According to historian James MacGregor Burns, Napoleon was not a bloodthirsty tyrant but a control fanatic. He controlled the press, books, theater, workers associations, and public demonstrations. 6 67

92 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT To teach the youth of France to respect the country s laws, for example, he took control of French schools from the locals and hired instructors who were required to teach from the same syllabus and textbooks. The result of this overcontrolling approach was that children fled to Catholic schools. And when Napoleon enacted conscription for military duty, the lives of soldiers became so draconian and restrictive that as word spread, it produced mass resistance of a sustained, endemic character, according to historian Isser Woloch. 7 Draft evaders were so desperate, they mutilated themselves or escaped over the Pyrenees mountain range to avoid military duty. The French did not want to be micromanaged. French citizens wanted freedom, not an overbearing ruler to dictate every aspect of their lives. After the deaths of several hundred thousand French soldiers from the catastrophic campaign in Russia during 1814 and Napoleon s later military defeat at Waterloo in 1815, his popular support waned. The self-appointed emperor learned that many of his supporters were of the fair-weather variety. In the end the British exiled Napoleon to the island of St. Helena. In the business world, the destructiveness of an excessively controlling person was demonstrated in the fall of the Pullman Palace Car Company in the late 1800s. George Pullman, an entrepreneur and engineer, created a successful company that built luxury railcars. As business boomed, Pullman built a companyowned town for his employees and named it after himself. He believed that a clean, orderly environment without saloons or other illicit attractions would produce superior workers. Pullman, Illinois, had a population of eight thousand people living in 1,400 housing units owned by Pullman and rented to the employees. It contained a school, a park, a library, a church, and other necessities of modern life. The company maintained the streets and lawns. Rent was deducted from employees paychecks. To ensure 68

93 DELETE WHAT DEVALUES that his rules were followed, Pullman hired spotters who identified troublemakers. If any of Pullman s rules were violated, an employee could be evicted on ten days notice according to the terms of the rental agreement. Pullman kept his finger on the pulse of every aspect of his workers lives. Although Pullman thought the workers should be grateful that he was allowing them to live in a Pullman-built utopia, they didn t see it that way. Many complained about the lack of freedom and often left to visit Chicago s neighborhoods nearby. In 1893 when the nation experienced a depression, Pullman was forced to lay off a fifth of his workforce and reduce wages by 25 percent for the remaining employees. Despite this downturn, workers who lived in Pullman s town continued to pay rent at current rates. The financial squeeze unleashed an underlying torrent of discontent among workers. The combination of employee disengagement and reduced pay triggered a backlash. In May 1894, Pullman s workers went on strike, and across the country other railroad workers, who were members of the labor union, joined the strike. After mass violence erupted and $80 million in property was damaged, President Grover Cleveland sent federal troops to protect the mail delivered via railroad, and the courts ordered an end to the strike. 8 Eventually, Pullman s company went bankrupt. Like Napoleon, Pullman learned the true feelings of the people he led, feelings that were hidden in good times. George Pullman s leadership is an extreme example of a wellintentioned leader who didn t understand the people he led. Leaders can learn from Pullman s unfortunate experience that controls rules, processes, and procedures should be maintained only if experience has proven that they are necessary and they produce benefits for the organization. Clearly, some controls are necessary and beneficial to ensure efficiency and concentration of effort, but 69

94 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT excessive control is a sure way to contribute to employee burnout. Leaders need to strike the right balance between giving people freedom and maintaining a minimum of controls and rules. 4. Eliminate excessive signs of hierarchy. Leaders who display excessive signs of their power and position, like proud peacocks showing off their feathers, devalue others. In a sense, their pride is in competition with everyone else s pride. When a leader tries to hog all the trappings of success, he crowds out recognition for others. Wise leaders err on the side of understatement. Consider Stan Gault, who led the Rubbermaid Corporation to become one of the most respected corporations in America. Shortly after he retired from Rubbermaid, the board of directors of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company asked him to take over the CEO s job. Goodyear s performance had suffered, and the company had taken on a heavy debt load to repurchase stock from corporate raider Sir James Goldsmith. Gault had to act fast. An early move was to send several messages to employees that he was on their side. He linked his pay to the performance of Goodyear stock, and he declared to all that he was willing to place his faith in the people of Goodyear and that together they would restore the company to its former glory. Gault inherited his predecessor s office on Goodyear s famed Mahogany Row. The office was large and required a considerable amount of lighting. He immediately unscrewed most of the light bulbs to cut costs. The word quickly spread at Goodyear. It wasn t long before everyone knew that when Gault asked employees to reduce expenses, he would be sacrificing too. 9 Other leaders have taken similar actions. When A. G. Lafley became the CEO of Procter & Gamble and began its remarkable turnaround, he reduced the excessive executive office space and 70

95 DELETE WHAT DEVALUES used the reclaimed space for an employee resource center. When Charles Schwab had to lay off workers in 2001, he declined to take any salary that year, provided generous severance packages to laidoff workers, personally established a $10 million trust to fund laidoff workers education expenses and, in a historical first, granted them stock options. At Intel Corporation, the former chairman and CEO Andrew Grove sat in an open cubicle and parked in the general parking lot like all other employees. Each of these leaders eschewed excessive signs of hierarchy and showed by their actions that they were willing to share in the sacrifice with everyone else. In one interview Carolyn Dewing- Hommes and I conducted, a person shared her disgust over a chief financial officer who communicated the need to reduce travel expenses and yet went against company policy and flew first class on short trips. Such leaders who are insensitive to others reduce connection because they create an emotional distance between themselves and most workers. When workers feel that leaders are enjoying all the fruits of the company s success or are not feeling any pain when times are difficult, they resent it and feel that selfish leaders are taking advantage of them. Conversely, leaders who make sacrifices for the good of the team elevate their employees and acknowledge their value. 5.Get rid of devaluing leaders. Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric, talks about how much he values the right leadership style and how he believes it affected trust and cooperation across GE. In GE s 2000 Annual Report Welch had this to say: We have to remove... the go-to manager, the hammer, who doesn t share the values, but delivers the numbers... on the backs of people, often kissing-up and kicking down during 71

96 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT the process. We have to remove these managers because they have the power in themselves to destroy the open, informal, trust-based culture we need to win today and tomorrow. We made our great leap forward when we began removing [these types of] managers and making it clear to the entire company why they were asked to leave not for the usual personal reasons or to pursue other opportunities, but for not sharing our values. Until leaders develop the courage to do this, people will never have the full confidence that these soft values are truly real. There are undoubtedly a few [of these managers] remaining, and they must leave the company, because their behavior weakens the trust that 600,000 people have in their leadership. Over time GE has done just that. The company identified leaders who didn t value people, even if they were making their numbers, and fired them after they had proven that they were unable or unwilling to change. The devaluing leaders described by Jack Welch damage the connection with people they are responsible for and therefore don t deserve to lead them. 6. Replace devaluing severance procedures. If it becomes necessary to reduce compensation expenses by eliminating positions, do it in a way that allows people to preserve their dignity. The consulting firm McKinsey & Company helps former employees find new jobs and stay connected to the firm s alumni network. Other companies take a far different approach. They pack up a person s belongings, shut off his access, and have him escorted to the door. Absent an indication of potential for violence, this approach is damaging to the employee-employer relationship. People will take note of how their former colleagues were treated. 72

97 DELETE WHAT DEVALUES By implementing the suggestions noted here, you will reduce the elements in an environment that make people feel devalued. In the next chapter, we ll look at actions you can take to fire up people by making them feel valued. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Human value exists in an organization when everyone understands the basic psychological needs of people, appreciates their positive, unique contributions, and helps them achieve their potential. Human value is about treating people with respect and dignity and empowering them to achieve their potential. America s break with England and its subsequent rise as an economic power demonstrate how human value can have a profound effect on people. Several types of behavior and attitudes in an organization should be removed because they devalue people. The following actions will increase human value. 1. Eliminate disrespectful, condescending, and rude behavior. 2. Go easy on the criticism. 3. Minimize unnecessary rules and excessive controls. 4. Eliminate excessive signs of hierarchy. 5. Get rid of devaluing leaders. 6. Replace devaluing severance procedures. Do you recall examples of devaluing behavior that you have experienced or witnessed at work? 73

98 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT So what? The element of human value can make or break your success as a leader. When people are devalued, they lose their motivation to excel at work, and they may want to retaliate against those who devalue them. By eliminating devaluing behavior, organizations can increase trust and cooperation among employees. What have you done lately to ensure that everyone you are responsible for leading is consistently treated with the respect and recognition that bring out the best in them and that you hope for yourself? 74

99 CHAPTER 10 DIAL UP THE VALUE The flip side of eliminating behaviors and attitudes that devalue people is adding elements that enhance people s value. These positive measures effectively empower people to achieve their potential. David Neeleman, the CEO of jetblue airlines, is an excellent example of a leader who adds elements to the workplace environment that increase employees sense of being valued. He refers to his colleagues at jetblue as fellow crew members rather than employees. He meets with 95 percent of new crew members on their first day of work. Neeleman makes it a point to know the names and stories of many people in the jetblue organization. Each week when he sets aside a day to fly the airlines routes, he connects with the crew while working alongside them. His actions speak volumes to the crew about how much he values them. Here are a few ways you can do this: 1. Make a human connection with as many people as possible. Leaders need to acknowledge individuals. There s no easier way to 75

100 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT show you value people than to learn about them and use their names when you speak with them. Knowing names and personal stories helps leaders make a powerful emotional connection with people in a short time. Leaders from the top down should be expected to know the stories of the people with whom they frequently come in contact. If you lead a large number of people, you can make human connections by meeting them, maintaining eye contact, saying something to them as you pass in the hallway, and acknowledging what they say to you. When leaders model this behavior, others will follow suit. Although it sounds so obvious, many leaders don t do this. Connection is increased by helping employees know each other s stories too, especially those of people who frequently interact with each other. One way to learn more about others is to maintain an intranet-based directory that includes employees names, pictures, and any information they feel comfortable sharing such as interests outside of work, favorite books, movies, quotations, and other information that communicates their unique stories. Giving individuals an opportunity to express themselves brings the color of human personality into the workplace. 2. Treat and speak to employees as partners. Treating people below you in your organization s hierarchy as equals rather than as inferiors enhances their sense of personal value. Remember, leaders make eye contact, say hello, and use the person s name, if possible, when they walk by an employee. Aloof behavior only communicates that someone is not worth acknowledging. Treat employees as partners too. Don t expect them to do personal errands for you. Think of others as partners who play different roles from yours. You will keep them connected and energized as they sense the respect you show them. 76

101 DIAL UP THE VALUE 3. Help employees find the right roles. Another way to show appreciation is to help people better understand their abilities, temperaments, and values. Each individual is a unique combination of natural and learned cognitive capabilities. Assessment tools enable people to identify their skills, temperaments, learning styles, thinking styles, and values. Providing these resources to people will help leaders place them in the roles where they will be most likely to excel. People who excel will be more likely to receive genuine recognition and respect, and well-deserved praise is encouraging and strengthens connection. Although many companies provide personality testing to selected leaders, few offer it to people throughout the organization. Chances are it has been a tool to help those leaders build a well-balanced team of people based on their personality types. This is a good start. But more tools should be used if you are serious about bringing out the best in the people you lead. Being in a position that fits an employee s strengths so that he performs well is essential to give him a sense of value. I refer to this as the right role. When a person is in the right role, he knows it and so do his peers because he is good at what he does. Several factors determine whether someone is in the right role. One factor is that the job fits well with the individual s personality and abilities. A second factor is that it presents the right degree of challenge. If our jobs are too easy, we will grow bored. If too difficult, we will become overly stressed. When we are in the right roles, however, we become immersed in our work to such an extent that we become unconsciously absorbed and lose a sense of ourselves and of the passing time. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has conducted extensive research on the subject with participants from around the 77

102 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT world. When the participants work provided the right degree of challenge, they consistently described the feeling of being so caught up in their work that they lost a sense of self and of time, a state that Csikszentmihalyi called flow. 1 His research shows that being in the right role, a role that creates flow, helps meet the universal human need for personal growth. In effect, when we are performing a challenging task that gives us a sense of flow, we are personally growing. Csikszentmihalyi believes that a person who is in a state of flow actually feels the sensation that comes when the brain is making new neural connections. Whatever the case, the flow that occurs when we are personally growing brings out the best in us. It fires us up. A third factor that contributes to being in the right role is that the job is consistent with the way the individual thinks of herself, her identity, and her values. The industry, the particular company, and the specific job all say something about her identity. When her job is consistent with her identity, she will be more engaged; when it s inconsistent with her identity, the job will contribute to her disengagement. When her identity is inconsistent with the identity of the company for example, a vegetarian working at a steakhouse she is in the wrong place and is unlikely to be excited about her work. 4. Educate, inform, and listen to employees. Educating, informing, and listening to employees enhances their sense of value. If you don t let people know what you are thinking, if you don t inform them and hear their points of view, they ll probably assume the worst. When people can t see the direction they are headed, they naturally experience anxiety. Conversely, when you inform and listen to them, they will be grateful that you recognized them and valued their ideas and opinions. With informa- 78

103 DIAL UP THE VALUE tion and understanding comes a greater sense of security and optimism that the future is bright. We will explore this issue in greater detail in the chapters ahead. 5. Decentralize decision making. Allowing people to make decisions shows them that you respect their abilities and judgment and that you value them. Many firms over the last hundred years decentralized decision making. Decentralization gained momentum when Peter Drucker persuaded Alfred P. Sloan Jr. to decentralize decision making at General Motors Corporation. It also grew when manufacturers worldwide began to adopt the Lean Manufacturing practices of Japanese companies, replacing the overspecialized, assembly-line mentality with teams that developed broader knowledge and skills and had greater autonomy. One contributor to the continued success of Toyota Motor Company and its Lexus Luxury Division is the higher-quality and lower-cost benefits resulting from the Toyota Production System. This management approach combines a high degree of team-based training, autonomy, decentralized decision making, and responsibility for continuous improvement. 2 Companies have learned from experience that decentralized decision making improves morale by giving more control to lowerlevel employees. It also improves effectiveness when decisions are made by the people who are closest to the relevant information. Having more decision-making authority lets people feel more in control, more respected, and more appreciated. Greater autonomy, so long as it does not exceed a worker s level of competence, fires up people. It leads to a greater sense of connection and engagement. 6. Recognize the human need for work/life balance. Finally, we all have times when things outside work require our undivided 79

104 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT attention. It may be the health of a loved one or our own health. Leaders need to balance giving employees time off for urgent needs in their personal lives with being fair to other employees who have to do more work when a colleague is away. Encouraging people to get sufficient rest and relaxation outside work is an important part of keeping people from burning out. Toward the end of most days, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt held a gathering for cocktails and poker where the only rule was that no one could talk politics. He cherished the time to relax and recharge. It revived his energy level and helped him maintain the optimism to lead America out of the Depression and through World War II. It also stimulated his creativity. During a vacation that some members of the press criticized FDR for taking, the president conceived the Lend Lease program to provide military assets to Great Britain in its hour of need. 3 People in the creative professions, including writers, musicians, and thought leaders, have long recognized the value of rest and relaxation to stimulate their creativity. Many of them retreat to quiet and relaxing settings to free themselves from the distractions of day-to-day life and release their creative energies. Prayer and meditation are frequently cited as practices that stimulate creativity. Successful leaders, from America s founders to Joe Torre, imbued the culture they were responsible for leading with human value. Leaders such as Napoleon and George Pullman failed, at least in part, because they didn t understand what motivates and demotivates people. Wise leaders know that applying human value in the work culture can make a world of difference by connecting and firing up people, ultimately affecting their own success or failure as leaders. 80

105 DIAL UP THE VALUE REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Six ways to increase human value in an organization are as follows: 1. Make a human connection with as many people as possible. 2. Treat and speak to employees as partners. 3. Help employees find the right role. 4. Educate, inform, and listen to employees. 5. Decentralize decision making. 6. Recognize the human need for work/life balance. How does your organization fare in the six ways to increase human value? So what? It s not enough to get rid of aspects in an organization that devalue people. To achieve maximum connection, you must also increase human value in ways that show people you want to help them reach their potential at work. 81

106 CHAPTER 11 THREE BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW In June of 2000 the combative Durk Jager resigned as CEO of Procter & Gamble after a tenure that had lasted only seventeen months, the shortest in the firm s 165-year history. When he left P&G, its stock had declined 50 percent, it had lost $320 million in the most recent quarter, half of its brands were losing market share, and the firm was struggling with morale problems. Jager was replaced by a low-key, quiet, and thoughtful P&G veteran named A. G. Lafley. Although Jager had questioned the competence of many P&G employees, Lafley immediately assured them that he knew they were capable of restoring the marketing powerhouse to its former greatness. Lafley s long career in marketing had taught him how to glean insights by listening to P&G s customers. Now he sought to do the same by listening to P&G s employees. Lafley turned to Jim Stengel, heir apparent to the chief marketing officer, and asked him to conduct a survey to find out what employees thought should be done. Although senior managers were considering several new business initiatives at that time, P&G s employees felt something different was needed. They wanted a renewed commitment to marketing, 82

107 THREE BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW more time to listen to customers, the results of programs to determine rewards rather than the quantity of programs launched, and more disciplined market planning. After P&G implemented employee suggestions, the number of employees who strongly agreed with the statement We re on the right track to deliver business results soared from 18 percent to 49 percent in just twelve months. And in a little more than two years after taking over from Jager, Lafley restored P&G to profitability, and the organization experienced a 70 percent increase in its stock price. Fortune magazine heralded Lafley as the un- CEO for his emphasis on listening and hearing [P&G employees] out practically one at a time. 1 Lafley turned P&G around in part because he increased the cultural element I described earlier as voice. The expanded term for this element is knowledge flow. There are three primary benefits to stimulating knowledge flow: it increases connection and fires up people, it helps leaders make better decisions, and it increases innovation. Benefit #1: Knowledge Flow Increases Connection and Fires Up People Knowledge flow communicates to people with less power in an organization that they are appreciated and respected enough to be informed and heard, and that their ideas can make a difference. As we discussed about human value, the affirmation and inclusion energizes and engages people. Knowledge flow says that no one has a monopoly on good ideas; an idea or way of thinking originating at the bottom of the organization s hierarchy just may be the one that helps the organization achieve its mission. The story of A. G. Lafley s turnaround of P&G illustrates that knowledge flow can help restore the confidence, optimism, and energy of employees. 83

108 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT History provides many examples of leaders who reduced knowledge flow to their detriment by marginalizing or eliminating individuals who held different viewpoints. In every case the people became disconnected, disengaged, and eventually turned on their leaders. The French Jacobin revolutionary leader, Maximilien Robespierre, is known primarily for instigating the Reign of Terror in During that time anyone perceived to be against the French Revolution was sent to the guillotine. When Robespierre took control of the Jacobins, the leftist revolutionary group that overthrew King Louis XVI, he aggressively eliminated anyone who disagreed with his radical views. Robespierre s suspicions of others contributed to his increasing isolation. Ultimately, his former supporters turned on him and sent him to the guillotine in Julius Caesar contributed to his demise by curtailing knowledge flow. Near the end of his life, Caesar treated the Roman Senate with disrespect, and he became dictatorial. He acted as if the Senate was a mere advisory council. He became intolerant of views that differed from his own. In 44 BC a group of republicans led by Cassius and Brutus murdered Caesar after his behavior led them to believe that he would abolish the Senate and make himself king of the Roman Empire. Leaders careers have advanced or receded over knowledge flow. One reason that Dwight D. Eisenhower was made Supreme Allied Commander of Europe during World War II was that he encouraged knowledge flow by seeking, listening to, and considering the opinions of others. 3 Several legendary military leaders were passed up for the position because they had reputations for not listening to others. Generals MacArthur and Patton wouldn t listen to the British, and British General Montgomery wouldn t listen to the Americans. 84

109 THREE BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW Eisenhower, however, was open-minded and confident without being arrogant or condescending. He displayed these character traits as he considered one of the most important decisions in his lifetime: when to launch the D-Day assault and send two hundred thousand soldiers into harm s way. General Eisenhower brought together all fourteen of his direct reports, not to take a vote but to hear and weigh their points of view. Only afterward did he make the decision to go. The attention Eisenhower paid his direct reports helped to make them more dedicated to him and their common mission. After he decided to launch the attack, he went out to circulate among the soldiers and encourage them before they departed. Eisenhower was on the airfield with the Eighty-second Airborne in the evening, assuring them that the massive force assembled for the assault would make them victorious. This action increased knowledge flow. The time with the troops communicated he valued them too. As word passed among the men that General Eisenhower was there in person, the troops had a psychological boost going into one of the most difficult military missions they would ever face. Benefit #2: Knowledge Flow Helps Decision Makers Make Better Decisions Knowledge flow helps organizations improve performance by leveraging the experience, insight, and information among people throughout the entire organization. Leaders who don t inform and listen to people throughout the organization, especially those who hold different points of view, are effectively isolating themselves from potentially valuable knowledge that will contribute to better decision making. The story of Andrew Grove and Intel illustrates how knowledge flow in a culture improves decision making. In his book 85

110 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Swimming Across, Grove, the former chairman and CEO of the microchip powerhouse, recounts his experiences of growing up in Hungary during the Nazi occupation and under Communist control following World War II and then immigrating to America. From these personal experiences Grove developed an appreciation for an open-minded culture and its benefits, having lived in fascist and totalitarian environments in which the ruling regime controlled speech, education, and the arts. As a new student in an American classroom, Grove encountered a telling contrast to life in Hungary. He was shocked that American students questioned their instructors. Hungarian students were expected to listen to and regurgitate their teachers views. One did not dare challenge the powers that be, at least not openly. 4 Years later, when Grove rose to head Intel, he promoted an open-minded culture within the company by encouraging what he called constructive confrontation people shared opposing views in a way that their differences would not become personal. He recognized that people needed to discuss alternative ideas and viewpoints without letting emotionalism creep in and thereby break down future communication. Grove also praised what he called helpful Cassandras, the people usually on the front lines of the business who, because of their strategic sense and proximity to the marketplace, were early to identify strategic inflection points that would impact their business. (Cassandra was the priestess of Greek mythology who used her powers of prophecy to predict the fall of Troy.) In his book Only the Paranoid Survive, Grove recounted how constructive confrontation and helpful Cassandras played a role in helping him make a major decision in his career: to have Intel exit the DRAM semiconductor business and focus on microprocessors. At that time the prevailing view among people at Intel 86

111 THREE BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW and in the semiconductor industry was that the discounted prices offered by Japanese competitors were attributable to dumping excess inventory. They believed that Japanese firms could not possibly be making a profit at the prices they were selling DRAMs in the US market. A handful of helpful Cassandras at Intel, however, believed otherwise. In their view, the Japanese firms were actually making money at the lower prices because their superior quality allowed them to scrap fewer defective chips. If that was true, Intel was in for trouble ahead because its quality was far below that of its Japanese competitors. As the internal debate at Intel progressed and Grove heard from the helpful Cassandras, he eventually realized that they were right. Grove made the decision to exit one of Intel s largest businesses before it got ugly. His decision turned out to be prescient. The Japanese took over the global DRAM market and competitors with higher cost structures suffered while Intel focused on the lower-volume but higher-margin microprocessor business. Within a little more than a decade following Grove s decision, Intel grew from one of many competitors in the overall semiconductor market to the largest nonproprietary manufacturer of semiconductors in the world, with revenues larger than its next three competitors combined. So successful were Grove and Intel that Time magazine named him Man of the Year in By encouraging constructive confrontation at Intel, Andrew Grove increased knowledge flow in the Intel culture and improved decision making. Like Andrew Grove, wise leaders as far back as ancient times warned of the dangers of self-delusion and learned that there is wisdom in seeking advice. The Greek orator Demosthenes cautioned in the fourth century, Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true. King 87

112 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Solomon, one of the most revered kings of Israel who was known for his wisdom, wrote more than thirty admonitions in the book of Proverbs advising that it is wise to be humble, to seek the advice and knowledge of others, and to listen to them. Solomon observed that pride leads to failure and that humility is necessary for wisdom (Prov. 16:18, 11:2). Leaders should not rely solely on their own judgment; Solomon stated that the foolish seem confident in their ways, but the wise seek and consider the advice of others (Prov. 12:15). More recently, the Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume declared, When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken. 6 Several of America s founding fathers were especially wellknown for seeking the advice of others. George Washington was a good listener who sought the opinions of others; he rarely spoke during most meetings. Like his fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson listened attentively but seldom spoke. Benjamin Franklin was renowned worldwide for his wisdom, breadth of knowledge, sense of humor, and tendency to listen more than to speak. During the twilight of his life, as the Constitutional Convention was concluding in Philadelphia, he addressed his fellow delegates, and in support of the newly drafted document he said: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects which I once thought right but have found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. 7 Ben Franklin s lifelong experience had taught him that it was wise to maintain a healthy skepticism about his own views and to 88

113 THREE BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW carefully consider the views of others. Earlier in life, he had written an editorial defending free speech and a free press; he noted that it was wise to let everyone publicly express views and, in doing so, more likely that the best ideas and courses of action would emerge from public debate. During World War II British Prime Minister Winston Churchill demonstrated his belief that knowledge flow was critical. Churchill was so concerned about getting accurate information to enable him to make decisions about the war that he established a group outside his generals command, the Statistical Office, to provide an independent viewpoint and confirm important facts. Churchill, an avid student of history, knew the risk to leaders who didn t receive accurate assessments, and he feared that his presence and personality might keep his generals from telling him bad news. 8 According to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, FDR wanted to hear many points of view before making decisions, so he deliberately appointed people with diverse views to his cabinet. He also looked for people who were not afraid to challenge him or each other. The disagreements among his cabinet members often became a matter of public knowledge. For Roosevelt, it was a small price to pay, provided it made him a better decision maker. 9 When a leader becomes isolated by surrounding himself with yes-men or by being closed to other viewpoints, he sets himself up for failure. The list is long of leaders who maintained false preconceptions until it was too late to change direction. The Catholic Church of the Middle Ages refused to acknowledge that the sun, rather than the earth, was the center of the universe despite Galileo s proof. This and other challenges to Catholic doctrines contributed to a decline in its influence and the rise of Protestantism and humanism in Europe. (Perhaps this was one 89

114 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT experience that persuaded the Catholic Church to allow at least some internal debate. In 1760, the church began formally appointing a person to the role of advocatus diaboli, the devil s advocate, who would argue against the case for the canonization of an individual being considered for sainthood.) In the year 1520, Montezuma, the last Aztec ruler of Mexico, mistook the Spanish conquistador Cortés to be the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. Cortés demanded that Montezuma hand over his empire, and he did without putting up any resistance and despite clear signs that Cortés was not a deity (the Spaniards demanded gold and worshiped Jesus and the Virgin Mary). Cortés had fewer than six hundred men, seventeen horses, and ten artillery pieces at his command compared to Montezuma s thousands, yet Montezuma was easily tricked. Montezuma s failure to fully consider the situation cost him the Aztec Empire and his life when his own people stoned him. 10 Holding on to false preconceptions continues to have negative consequences. Senior management at Lucent didn t listen to scientists who warned of the need to develop a new optical technology, OC-192, and then watched as Nortel introduced it to great success in the 1990s. As a result of this and other instances of management failure, Lucent nearly had to file bankruptcy. 11 Before the 1986 launch of the Challenger space shuttle, some engineers at NASA knew that the O-rings on previous shuttle flights had shown evidence of damage, yet they rationalized away the problem. Their doubts didn t surface until Challenger exploded. Boston College sociologist Diane Vaughan, in her book The Challenger Launch Decision, describes NASA s culture in which engineers who were aware of the potential problem were reluctant to bring the issue out into the open. Pressure to meet the launch schedule and a culture that exalted a can do attitude and looked 90

115 THREE BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW down on those who called attention to potential obstacles that were less than obvious made engineers reluctant to share their concerns, absent clear-cut evidence of a problem. Unfortunately, not all problems present themselves in obvious ways. 12 Seven years after the Challenger s loss, some of the same issues resurfaced when the Columbia space shuttle exploded. Once again NASA s senior managers were unaware of NASA engineers concerns about damage to the shuttle that occurred upon its launch. NASA engineers had gone so far as to analyze the potential for damage and had even involved people at the Boeing Corporation without alerting senior management. Rather than aggressively addressing potential problems as they arose, once again NASA s culture encouraged engineers to move cautiously below the radar screen of senior management. In essence, the engineers feared to speak candidly to those in power in part because leaders failed to actively seek out the engineers concerns. 13 Investigations into the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, indicated that the lack of knowledge flow contributed to America s intelligence failure. Poor communication between the FBI and the CIA and between the FBI field offices and its headquarters meant that analysts lacked access to information that might have helped them spot a pattern of activity suggesting a potential plot. 14 This is another chapter in a long history of American intelligence failures that should have identified impending attacks. America failed to see the inevitability of its involvement in World War I until many citizens were killed when a German U-boat sank the British luxury liner Lusitania. Likewise in World War II, America failed to understand the emerging threat of the Axis powers until Pearl Harbor was attacked and more than two thousand Americans lost their lives. We re slow to see changes in the way the world works, even 91

116 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT when the evidence is in front of us. When we refuse to hear and consider other people s opinions, we isolate ourselves from change, and we don t stand a chance of maintaining a realistic view. Mark Twain expressed the sentiment well when he said, It s not what you don t know that hurts you. It s what you know that ain t so. The bottom line is that when we fail to seek and consider the views of others, we commit self-sabotage. Cognitive scientists have begun to understand why it is so difficult for us to recognize when our views are no longer true. Their research has revealed that our brains are slow to replace existing beliefs with new ones because it requires more energy and effort, more brain power if you will, to process new ideas. It s simply easier to allow our brains to work on autopilot and accept our existing beliefs, even if they are untrue. Only a constant flow of information that challenges our preconceptions will cause us to question our existing beliefs and consider alternative views. 15 History teaches us that knowledge is power. It is power precisely for its usefulness in helping leaders and decision makers choose optimal courses of action. Knowledge flow in a culture is the only proven antidote to our human susceptibility to maintain false preconceptions. Leaders who promote knowledge flow are deemed wise for their successful decisions and their winning organizations. Benefit #3: Knowledge Flow Increases Creativity and Innovation The third benefit of knowledge flow is an increase in creativity and innovation. When knowledge flows vertically up and down the chain of command and horizontally across an organization, it empowers people and makes them more effective. Encouraging 92

117 THREE BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW the creative energies of people at all levels can lead to remarkable results, as the following story from World War II illustrates. After the Americans landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and secured their initial positions, they began to push deeper into France. In June 1944, about ten miles inland, they approached the Normandy countryside that the French call the Bocage. This area consisted of plots of land that farmers separated with hedgerows rather than fences. The hedgerows were made of several feet of packed soil topped off with brush and vines. When a Sherman tank attempted to go over the top of the hedgerows, the nose of the tank popped up, exposing its thin underbelly to Nazi antitank fire. Allied military planners had spent so much time concentrating on the D-Day landings that they hadn t fully considered the problems in hedgerow country. The Sherman tanks vulnerability caught everyone by surprise. At first, the Americans tried blasting the hedgerows open so the Sherman tanks could then breach the holes created by the explosions. Unfortunately, the explosions gave the Nazis advance warning of where the tanks were going. Nearly a month after D- Day, the Allies were falling behind schedule primarily because of the problems created by the hedgerows and the adeptness of the Nazis hedgerow defense. One day, in a discussion between officers and enlisted men, the idea arose of mounting saw teeth on the front of the tank. Many of those present laughed at the suggestion. One soldier, however, took the idea seriously. Sergeant Curtis G. Cullen, a cab driver from Chicago, immediately designed and built a hedgerowcutting device made from steel rails that the Nazis had used to defend the beaches. When tested, Cullen s device, backed by the Chrysler engines powering the Sherman tanks, sliced right through the hedgerows

118 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Sherman tanks mounted with Cullen s device looked like rhinoceroses, so the soldiers began calling them Rhinos. Within days of the idea s origination, it was on the desk of General Omar Bradley, head of the First Army. He attended a demonstration of the Rhino and immediately ordered five hundred of Cullen s devices. In two weeks, 60 percent of the First Army s Sherman tanks became Rhinos. In General Bradley s account of the war, A Soldier s Story, he credited the Rhinos for getting the First Army through the hedgerow country in time to crush the Nazi army in France. 17 Commenting on the speed with which the hedgerow-cutting device moved from idea to implementation, historian Stephen Ambrose observed: That didn t happen in other armies... I m convinced that this came out of being a participating member in a free society... Rommel did not have a suggestion box outside his door. Eisenhower did. Bradley did... Hitler thought totalitarianism is by far the most efficient form of government... but as Eisenhower wrote to his brother on September 1, 1939, the day the war began: Hitler should beware of the fury of an aroused democracy. Well, the U.S. Army of World War II became the tip of the spear of that aroused democracy. And we just did wonderfully well. 18 The US Army benefited when Sergeant Cullen s hedgerowcutting device idea quickly made its way to General Omar Bradley, who was open-minded enough to consider and act upon it. Ultimately, knowledge flow contributed to the Allies liberation of France. In the business world, innovation often comes from the people closest to clients and competitors. At Starbucks a store manager in 94

119 THREE BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW West Los Angeles was experimenting with beverages and a blender she had brought to the store. Her curiosity led to the creation of the Frappuccino, a frozen drink that became a multi-hundred-milliondollar business for Starbucks stores and a major new business for a Starbucks and PepsiCo joint venture to bottle the Frappuccino and sell it through grocery stores. 19 The danger to nations that reduce knowledge flow is apparent throughout history. By isolating themselves and their countries, the leaders of civilizations have missed opportunities for innovation and growth. China in 1400 had the best and largest fleet of ships in the world (over a period of three years the Chinese built or refitted 1,681 ships). With their enormous fleet, the Chinese sailed to Indonesia, Arabia, East Africa, and India. Gradually, however, the Chinese emperor s attitude toward the benefits of foreign travel shifted as he favored domestic agriculture over maritime interests. By 1436, the Chinese were diverting resources from maintaining the ships, and by 1500, anyone who built a ship with more than two masts was subject to the death penalty. In 1525, the Chinese authorities ordered all oceangoing ships to be destroyed and their owners arrested. 20 A period of Chinese isolation from the rest of the world began. At the time of the ships destruction, China led the world in innovation. It had developed gunpowder, deep drilling, printing, paper, porcelain, cast iron, and the compass. China s isolation, however, prevented it from knowing about developments beyond its borders, the ideas and information that had contributed to its high rate of innovation when Chinese ships were sailing the world. In recent decades, economic reforms and social freedoms have reconnected China to the broader world, resulting in increased Chinese economic growth. Like the Chinese civilization, the Arab-Islamic civilization 95

120 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT became isolated in the sixteenth century as its leaders adopted the view that the world beyond them had little to offer. As a result of the isolationism adopted by the Chinese and Arab-Islamic civilizations, both began a period of steady decline in innovation and economic output. Meanwhile, European innovation and output increased with expanding conquests in the New World and the opening up of European society following the Enlightenment. The lack of knowledge flow in the Chinese and Arab-Islamic civilizations contributed to their fall from being global leaders in innovation and creativity, just as Europe s increased knowledge flow contributed to its rise. Knowledge flow fires up people by giving them a voice and meeting the human psychological needs for respect, recognition, and belonging. By helping leaders make better decisions and increasing innovation, the last two benefits of knowledge flow contribute to improving an organization s performance and, by doing so, further fire up people. Research has shown that people who work for better-performing organizations are more engaged in their work. 21 In Chapter 12, we ll examine specific actions you can take to increase knowledge flow in your work environment. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Knowledge flow exists when everyone in an organization seeks the ideas of others, shares ideas and opinions honestly, and safeguards relational connections. Knowledge flow in an organization communicates that people are appreciated and respected, helping to increase connection and engagement. 96

121 THREE BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW Knowledge flow helps leaders be their most effective by leveraging the experience, insight, and information among people throughout the organization. Leaders who fail to seek and consider the opinions of others eventually will succumb to the negative consequences generated by false preconceptions. Andrew Grove of Intel made one of the best decisions in his career by encouraging knowledge flow and learning from it. George Washington, FDR, Winston Churchill, and other significant leaders also benefited from a leadership style that increased knowledge flow. The US Army benefited from knowledge flow when Sergeant Curtis Cullen s idea for the Rhino tank quickly made its way to General Omar Bradley in time to help the Allies liberate France during World War II. Cultures that isolate themselves from external knowledge flow shut off a flow of ideas that increase innovation. Knowledge flow in your organization should be sufficiently robust up and down the chain of command, across departments and business units, and from outside the organization so that everyone benefits from an extensive marketplace of ideas and know-how. So what? Knowledge flow is critical to firing up people, helping leaders learn so that they can make better decisions, and stimulating innovation. Where do you see that knowledge 97

122 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT flow is high and where it is low in your organization? Are some parts of your organization isolated from knowledge that might benefit them? Are you and others in your organization intentional about increasing knowledge flow? 98

123 CHAPTER 12 INCREASE FLOW After seeing that leaders who increase knowledge flow benefit from it and that leaders who don t risk failure, you might ask what you can do to ensure that knowledge flow is maximized in your organization. The following are several steps I recommend to increase knowledge flow in your culture. 1. Hold ongoing knowledge-flow sessions. Leaders stimulate knowledge flow by regularly holding sessions with employees in which they share information about important issues facing the organization and near-term action plans they are considering. The leader encourages employees to share what they believe is right, what s wrong, and what s missing from his or her thinking. The frequency, length, and size of these sessions can be tailored to particular segments of employees. Sessions are conducted at all levels of the organization. Unlike the typical staged town hall meeting in many organizations, the knowledge flow session is characterized by honest dialogue. Key to its success is an environment in which participants feel safe to share their ideas and opinions. 99

124 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Results from knowledge flow sessions are shared with all participants, and valuable ideas arising from the sessions are executed. Employees feel more connected and become more fired up as they are informed, they are heard, and they see their ideas implemented. Because few leaders do this well, it is wise for most leaders to get outside assistance to design and implement the knowledge-flow session process as well as see it modeled. 2. Use your intranet to make information easily accessible. Too many leaders are reluctant to make information available to all employees. The benefit of making information widely available will far outweigh the risk of information leaking to external sources. Leaders 100

125 INCREASE FLOW will gain from having more knowledgeable, fired up employees who feel that leaders respect, value, and trust them enough to make important information available to them. The Charles Schwab Corporation makes an extensive number of strategy and competitive-analysis reports available to all employees on the firm s intranet platform dubbed the Schweb. The Schweb is a repository of information ranging from commonly used forms and contact information to topical reports and business segment updates. 1 McKinsey & Company is another firm that makes an abundant amount of information available to employees. The firm maintains a database of previous reports generated by its consultants. Potentially sensitive contents about clients have been removed before the reports are posted to the database. McKinsey also maintains a database of experts throughout the firm that can be sorted by area of expertise and by office. 2 This practice leverages the vast unwritten knowledge and experience of McKinsey s people. 3. Promote a culture of responsiveness. McKinsey & Company has an informal rule that everyone should return telephone calls within twenty-four hours. It enables a person who needs knowledge to identify someone who might hold it, contact him, and have a response within twenty-four hours. 3 This practice is a powerful way to leverage knowledge that might otherwise go unused for the benefit of the firm. 4. Ask people to be inquisitive. Better-informed employees are more likely to identify critical pieces of information to solve business problems and spot opportunities. I like the term Peter Drucker once gave to the contributions of educated employees who shared an opposing point of view. He called it informed 101

126 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT dissent. 4 Leaders should ask employees to seek to understand their business, client attitudes, and competitors actions so that they can bring informed dissent to the organization s decisionmaking process. General Electric does this by thinking of and describing itself as a learning company. Among other things, GE encourages employees to recognize best practices outside the company and in other business units across GE, all for the purpose of continually strengthening their businesses. 5. Encourage external awareness. When Andrew Grove of Intel made the bold decision to exit the DRAM memory business and focus on microprocessors, much of the information that aided his decision came from external sources noted by Intel employees. They compiled quality data on Japanese-versus American-made memories, Japanese manufacturing practices, and other industry-related operations because they wanted to understand their competitive position and how it might change in the future. Leaders will benefit by encouraging employees to consider what external knowledge might be valuable and to seek it out. This practice will help protect the company from what Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has called disruptive technologies (new offerings that change your industry s paradigm). 5 It will also help your company discern opportunities to be the instigator of disruptive innovation. 6. Increase the diversity of participants. People with diverse knowledge, experiences, abilities, thinking styles, and temperaments see things differently. Leaders can improve the creativity in a group s problem identification and solution seeking by including people with diverse backgrounds. When holding knowledge flow sessions with groups of employees, be sure to include a mix of people 102

127 INCREASE FLOW from different departments and professional backgrounds, and make them aware that you are counting on them to offer fresh perspectives. 7. Seek other views and reward those with the courage to speak up. Leaders must encourage employees to express their points of view, especially when they see things in a different light from leaders or the majority of their colleagues. Typically, individuals who hold views not aligned with those held by leaders or by the majority of their colleagues are punished and thought of as troublemakers. 6 Socrates, Sir Thomas More, William Wallace, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nelson Mandela, and many, many other courageous heroes openly expressed their views and were imprisoned or killed for doing so. Machiavelli wrote in the sixteenth century that nothing is more dangerous than trying to bring about change. According to research on group conformity, individuals within a group consider dissenters to be less competent than people who hold the majority view. That s why we fear to speak out and do so only in an environment where trust and honesty are highly valued. For these reasons, great leaders must not only tolerate the expression of all differing viewpoints but also encourage it. Leaders would be wise to follow the example of Andrew Grove, who celebrated people for spotting strategic inflection points on the horizon. Openly admitting that no one has a monopoly on good ideas and asking people to share what they believe is right, wrong, or missing from your thinking is a badge of wisdom and courage, not a sign of weakness. 8. Promote a culture of experimentation. From the many ideas generated in a diverse and open culture with high knowledge flow, it is not always clear which single idea or course of action is superior. 103

128 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT Great leaders have embraced experimentation as the way to find ideas that turn out to be the most effective in practice. Experience is the best teacher. By creating pilot projects to test new ideas, leaders benefit from the additional knowledge brought by experience. The wisdom of experimentation reminds me of the story of Thomas Edison performing an extraordinary number of experiments as he sought to develop the light bulb. It is said that as his assistants grew frustrated with mounting failures, Edison calmed them by sharing this perspective: Yes, it s true that we have worked long and hard and haven t found what we re looking for. But the results of our work have been excellent. We have a list of fifty thousand things we know won t work. 7 We don t expect leaders to experience Edison s high rate of failure before achieving success. However, to an extent that s the attitude a leader must take: we as an organization learn with each completed experiment, and we must strive to take into account the insights from our failed experiments so that we may improve our batting average on future decisions and courses of action. 9. Safeguard relational connections. It is important in all communications to be sensitive to the feelings of other people. Politely asking someone to do something is preferable to giving orders. Using a respectful tone is better than talking down to someone. Insensitive communication styles impede knowledge flow because people will naturally react in a defensive manner. Individuals who regularly show insensitivity should be made aware of it and coached to change their behavior. People who are insensitive in communicating with others may be unaware of it. Although they may not like hearing it, once they see proof of the reactions on the part of their colleagues, they will begin to appreciate the need to change. 104

129 INCREASE FLOW OBSERVING THE CHAIN OF COMMAND Critics might label this knowledge-flow approach of informing people and broadly gathering and considering input as another form of management by committee. It is not. I am not advocating that a leader delegate decision making to a committee or group. I believe in seeking the best ideas and then making decisions that must be followed by all, even the informed dissenters. This system combines a diversity of ideas with unity of action. Even after people have expressed their views and the decision has been made, there will be times when people do not agree. The duty of dissenters is to respect authority and abide by it to the best of their ability. A decision-making hierarchy, or chain of command as some call it, is a system that has been proven to work extremely well. A decision-making hierarchy defines who is responsible for decisions and holds that person accountable for the decisions he makes. It is responsive and efficient because it doesn t require the time and effort to achieve consensus from all parties when time is of the essence. Furthermore, a decision-making hierarchy concentrates resources by requiring everybody to act on the decision that has been made. 8 The antithesis of a decision-making hierarchy is direct (or pure) democracy in which everyone gets a vote on most decisions. Direct democracy is rare because it takes time to inform everyone and hear views. It is also problematic because majority viewpoints are not always well-informed, especially on complex issues. Few people have the time to delve deeply into every issue so that they are prepared to make knowledgeable decisions. Direct democracies have at times produced disastrous results. The direct democracy in Athens executed one of history s greatest teachers, Socrates, for not believing in the Athenian gods. America s Founding Fathers 105

130 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT rejected direct democracy in favor of a republic, or representative democracy, that places decision making in the hands of elected leaders. One leader who wisely decided against the majority view in the late 1970s was Donald Regan. Then head of Merrill Lynch, he decided to launch the first cash management account. Most people in Merrill Lynch at the time feared the new product would cheapen the firm s image and eventually hurt business results. The product development staff, however, favored it. Regan considered the views of both sides and decided to go forward. As it turned out, the cash management account attracted billions of dollars and millions of new clients to Merrill Lynch. The product became one of the most popular innovations in financial services history. It brought many American households into the capital markets for the first time and provided attractive funding for economic expansion during the final decades of the twentieth century. 9 I believe the optimum solution is a decision-making hierarchy that includes broad participation and input from others, especially on the most important decisions facing the organization. This preserves the benefits of a chain of command by clearly assigning responsibility and accountability for making decisions while bringing the broad experience, ideas, and opinions of others to the decision makers attention. This practice gives participants a greater sense of ownership in decisions, and it enhances connection. REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Nine ways to increase and stimulate knowledge flow are as follows: 106

131 INCREASE FLOW 1. Hold ongoing knowledge-flow sessions. 2. Use your intranet to make information easily accessible. 3. Promote a culture of responsiveness. 4. Ask people to be inquisitive. 5. Encourage external awareness. 6. Increase the diversity of participants. 7. Seek other views and reward those with the courage to speak up. 8. Promote a culture of experimentation. 9. Safeguard relational connections. Would your colleagues say you actively seek the views of others and seriously consider them? Do your colleagues seek the views of others and seriously consider them? So what? When a high degree of knowledge flow exists in your organization, you can be sure that people are more engaged, decision makers will make better decisions, and innovation will be greater, all of which contribute to organizational success. 107


133 PART III THE FIRE STARTS WITH YOU: Become a Person of Character and Connection to Ignite the Team Around You In Part III you will learn... why connection would never occur if it weren t for the right kind of people whose actions increase connection. there are three types of people who affect connection: intentional disconnectors, unintentional disconnectors, and intentional connectors. none of us is perfect and we all need to be intentional about developing the character strengths that increase connection. others can help us become aware of the blind spots in our character that decrease connection. we improve our character and connection with others by maintaining high-trust relationships, undergoing periodic relational checkups, and knowing the stories of great people who exhibited character strengths.

134 CHAPTER 13 PEOPLE WHO CONNECT MIn the Introduction of this book I described how my personal experiences, and in particular my wife s bouts with cancer, influenced my thinking about connection and organizational culture. Other events in my life, as well as my study of culture and leadership, have shaped my views about the cultures I want to be a part of, the type of leaders I want to follow, and the person and leader I aspire to become. How about you? What experiences in your life have shaped your beliefs about work culture and leadership? How about your experiences growing up, including the way your parents, siblings, teachers, and coaches treated you? Did some of them inspire you and others discourage you? How did your friends and peers affect you? Did some of them bring out the best in you and others bring out the worst? How have the mentors or leaders you ve had influenced you? I sincerely hope that reflecting on these questions will provide you with insights to guide your journey in life to places and relationships that will bring out the very best in you personally and professionally. 110

135 PEOPLE WHO CONNECT OXYGEN FOR THE SOUL After spending years thinking about and studying the issues of culture, leadership, and connection, I m convinced that they are critical to my personal success and well-being as well as the success of any group of people that I am a part of. My family, neighborhood, church, children s schools, business, town, state, nation, and the world are affected in positive and negative ways by culture, leadership, and connection among people. Unfortunately, because these issues are less tangible, it s easy to take them for granted. Tasks and processes are out there in the open for us to see and quantitatively measure. Connection, like oxygen, tends to be less obvious. The clearest way we know that connection is missing is to experience environments where it is in abundant supply and environments where it isn t. Only then do we feel and appreciate the difference. Unlike oxygen deprivation, the effects of connection deprivation take place gradually so that our decline in performance and well-being can be slow and steady. And therein lies the danger. Absent an awareness of connection and an appreciation for its positive effect on our lives, we could be gradually disconnecting ourselves and not be aware of it until the damage is done. The high degree of connection that my family and I experienced with family, friends, and health-care professionals during the course of Katie s treatment for cancer woke me up to the connection deficiency in my life. After experiencing that degree of connection, I cannot return to the imbalanced life I was living before. Sure, there will be times and seasons when I need to focus more on tasks and less on relationships, but they shouldn t be extended times that drain the life out of me. By asking yourself 111

136 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT the questions in Appendix A, you too can begin to consider the state of connection in the cultures you live in. WHICH TYPE ARE YOU? Each of us acts in ways that increase connection at times and decrease it at others. In general, though, individuals tend to fall into one of three categories when it comes to connection. We are intentional disconnectors, unintentional disconnectors, or intentional connectors. Intentional disconnectors are people who infect others with beliefs and behaviors that cause disconnection. They mock the idea that inspiring identity, human value, and knowledge flow are desirable in and of themselves. They re selfish and will intentionally manipulate people to get their way. Emotionally, they live alone because they fear being vulnerable and genuine with others. They may put on a front, a smiling mask, but on the inside they are gradually becoming empty and depressed souls. Some intentional disconnectors have serious psychological problems, and mental health professionals would categorize them as neurotic. Others embrace values that are disconnecting, such as doing whatever is necessary to get ahead, despite what is commonly accepted as right. Believe me, I know from personal experience that working with an intentional disconnector is a nightmare. That s why we need to be aware of them and to stay out of their destructive paths. Based on press accounts, it would appear that Chainsaw Al Dunlap, the former CEO of Sunbeam, was an intentional disconnector. He relished intimidating people and ruling like a dictator. As the inevitable consequences of his leadership style played out, 112

137 PEOPLE WHO CONNECT Sunbeam s performance woes intensified until Dunlap was dismissed. Unintentional disconnectors represent the majority of people. Although they believe inspiring identity, human value, and knowledge flow are desirable, they lack sufficient self-knowledge to see that their behavior reduces connection. They suffer from blind spots, destructive habits that increase disconnection. They may order others about as if they were children. Or perhaps they are unable to consider constructive criticism without turning their wrath on the messenger. Or maybe they are unable to connect with the people they lead and are unaware of it. Whatever the case, unintentional disconnectors decrease connection without realizing it. For the most part, we drift toward becoming unintentional disconnectors, and we must exert intentional effort to realize it and change. Take me, for example. Early in my career, my supervisor told me that some people whom I was responsible for leading didn t feel I gave them adequate feedback about their performance. More specifically, they sensed I wasn t telling them when they did something that I disliked. Through this feedback, I realized that by communicating only positive, encouraging aspects of the employees performance, I was not doing what was best for them. In addition, I needed to be honest with employees when they did something I disagreed with so that they might learn from the situation and adjust their behavior. Because people sensed I wasn t being completely candid with them, the connection between us was lessened. Now that I am aware of this blind spot, I m careful to tell people when I have qualms about their actions. My story isn t unique. Many leaders become aware of their blind spots and their behaviors that foster disconnection when they receive constructive feedback from a supervisor or executive 113

138 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT coach. With coaching and ongoing processes put in place to measure their progress, many grow to become better leaders. When we make a commitment to change and open ourselves to honest feedback about the effects of our behavior, we begin the journey to become people who reach our potential and help others reach theirs. I can t emphasize enough that we naturally drift toward becoming unintentional disconnectors, and the only way to consistently increase connection is to become intentional about developing into the type of person who increases it. Over the course of my life, I have been fortunate to learn from people who consistently enhance connection. Some have been leaders in the traditional sense while others have not. I have personally met some while I have learned about others by studying their lives, reading their letters and speeches, and reviewing what others have written about them. I ve recounted a few of their stories in this book. Still others you would not know because they are not in the public eye. Intentional connectors are full of life, a sense of purpose, and genuine joy compared to most people you meet. Inevitably, they are wise about themselves and about life. They increase connection in the cultures of which they are a part because they embody inspiring identity, human value, and knowledge flow. They combine a steadfast dedication to reaching performance excellence and accomplishing their mission while nurturing a culture that creates connection. Although there is much to admire in intentional connectors, that doesn t mean they are perfect. No one is. And that leads me to a major point that we ll discuss in the following chapter. 114

139 PEOPLE WHO CONNECT REVIEW, REFLECTION, AND APPLICATION Which of the three types of people who affect connection are you: an intentional disconnector, unintentional disconnector, or intentional connector? Most of us are unintentional disconnectors and are unaware that our actions are inconsistent with our values. Take a moment and identify one or more intentional connectors in your life. What is it about them that you would like to emulate? So what? We all naturally drift toward becoming unintentional disconnectors. We must exert intentional effort to develop the habits that increase connection. 115

140 CHAPTER 14 THE JOURNEY TO CONNECTION Becoming an intentional connector requires a personal journey. No one is perfect. Even great leaders who have made significant contributions stumble at times. FDR, one of my personal heroes, failed to get behind federal anti-lynching legislation, interned innocent Japanese-Americans during World War II, and had an affair that left his wife, Eleanor, emotionally scarred for life. In 1939, FDR, bowing to anti-semitism in the USA, refused to allow entry of the SS St. Louis, and nearly all of its 937 Jewish passengers died in concentration camps when the ship, unable to find a safe haven, returned to Europe. Even though FDR was responsible for these actions, we can still admire him for his courage and optimism in facing polio and guiding America through the Depression and World War II. THE BATTLE WITHIN Each of us faces an internal conflict between doing what is right and what is wrong. In the Bible, the apostle Paul wrote that he wanted 116

141 THE JOURNEY TO CONNECTION to do what was right though often another part of him yearned to do otherwise. Sigmund Freud wrote of the ongoing conflict inside us between our desires and our conscience. Responding to the query in the Times (London): What is wrong with the world? British author G. K. Chesterton simply replied: Dear Sir, I am. 1 We all can relate to an inner battle. On the one hand, we want to eat that dessert, but on the other hand, we don t. We want to tell the person questioning our viewpoint that he s nuts, yet we know better because we might learn something from him, or we might damage our relationship. We don t want to take the time to get to know some of the people we work with, yet we know we should. In the movie Crash, which won best picture at the 2005 Academy Awards, we see people over the course of a thirtysix-hour period at their worst and at their best. In one scene, Police Officer Ryan, played by actor Matt Dillon, abuses his power while allegedly frisking a woman for concealed weapons. Later in a separate incident, he courageously risks his life to pull the same woman out of a car moments before it explodes. Although Officer Ryan s acts are extreme, like him, we also commit some acts that are right and others that are wrong. It s just a matter of degree. Put in situations where constraints on our behavior don t exist, we might commit acts that we find difficult to imagine today. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are capable of right and wrong, even good and evil. The personality that is hardwired in us at birth, the habits we develop over a lifetime, and the culture we live in influence our behavior and whether we act in a way that is right or wrong. For example, people are more likely to share information with one another if they have trusting temperaments, they habitually share information with others, and they work in cultures where others routinely share information. This is why character development is so important. Character 117

142 FIRED UP or BURNED OUT helps us to do the right thing even when internal and external pressures make us want to do otherwise. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Wilberforce, Winston Churchill, and Mahatma Gandhi are just a few notable leaders who stood against evil despite tremendous pressure to maintain the status quo. Their character strengths of courage, compassion, and justice gave them a clear understanding of what was wrong and the determination to do what was right. It s no different in an organization. People who are most likely to increase inspiring identity, human value, and knowledge flow in a dog-eat-dog culture do so because they have character strengths that guide them to do what is right. Character strengths provide us a moral compass to know what is right and the desire to do what is right. Without character strengths to guide us, we are more susceptible to going with the flow of our temperaments, our habits, and our current culture. CHARACTER AND CONNECTION To see how certain character strengths relate to the elements in a connection culture, consider some leaders highlighted in earlier chapters and how their character strengths led to actions that improved connection. Purpose, optimism, and vitality increase inspiring identity. Steve Jobs s desire to find a meaningful purpose for Apple Computer and his hard work to achieve it reflect these character strengths. The same could be said for Richard Feynman s desire to tell engineers the reason for their work on the Manhattan Project. Kindness and a love of people increase human value. David Neeleman at jetblue airlines models these character strengths when he takes time to meet with 95 percent of jetblue s new crew 118

143 THE JOURNEY TO CONNECTION members. Howard Schultz at Starbucks shows his concern by making health-care insurance and stock options available to most of Starbucks s employees, many of whom work part time. Humility, open-mindedness, and curiosity increase knowledge flow. A. G. Lafley s continuous seeking of opinions and ideas from the people at Procter & Gamble is a reflection of these character strengths. George Washington also had these character strengths: he was known as a listener who considered others views. When the beliefs and behaviors of people in an organization live up to the standards of good character I just mentioned, it creates the inspiring identity, human value, knowledge flow, and ultimately, the connection necessary to become a great organization. The Character Connection Thrive Chain diagram shows clusters of character strengths that specifically link to the elements in a connection culture. Research is beginning to confirm that organizations that advance character strengths experience superior performance. According to a 2004 Aspen Institute and Booz Allen Hamilton study of corporate behavior, companies that attained superior financial results were far more likely to have written value statements 119

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